Rochester Community Called to Service in Honor of Dr. King Jr.

Jan 20, 2014

A community-wide celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. calls for the commitment of Rochester residents. The Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission held its annual service at the Eastman Theater.

"Shall we stand for peace among all peoples together?" Audience response: "We shall."

These are the voices of dozens of area residents inside Eastman's Kodak Hall giving new birth to the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Shall we join hands and work together in unity and singleness of purpose?” "We Shall"

In more than words, Simeon Banister, who is a member of the MLK Jr. Commission, says it's going to take the effort of Rochester residents to “pitch in” and “figure out” how they can improve the education system, community violence, poverty and other social struggles.

"A lot of times we find ourselves waiting for a superhero to kind of save us all from the ills that we confront. All these problems are too big for one person to deal with."

Banister says walking together can be as simple as volunteering. Mayor Lovely Warren says it's this kind of thinking that could help the city become united.

MLK Community Choir in Kodak Hall in Eastman Theater
Credit WXXI

"No one can take this walk alone and change a community unless the community walks hand in hand together and think that's what today represented."

Warren talked about teaming up with the Monroe County executive, city council and school board to no longer look at what divides but rather what brings people together.

Stuart Mitchell, the President and CEO of PathStone, says the community needs to roll up its sleeves "and stop posturing about the issues themselves, and really take seriously his [Dr. King Jr.] command. That we look at this beloved community. What does that mean to us? And break down those barriers that are artificial."

Mitchell was one of the event's "Everyday Hero" honorees. He participated in the national civil rights movement in Tennessee. Constance Mitchell, who is of no relation to Stuart Mitchell, was also recognized for her local contributions. She is the first African-American woman elected to the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.

Banister says the theme for Rochester this year is "do we have a will to personally make a difference." He quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saying "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve".