On Jan. 26, Rev. Paul L. Jakes Jr., pastor of Old St. Paul M.B. Church, hosted a commemorative program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Honorable Judge R. Eugene Pincham was scheduled to appear, but illness prevented it although a special prayer and recognition was paid to him.

Jurist Thomas N. Todd-or as he is affectionately called, TNT-was the keynote speaker, and special tribute to West Side 5th district’s State Senator Rickey Hendon was also part of the program.

The program began with the singing of the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” followed by the Maranatha Praise Team choral group. First speaker paying tribute was Jane Ramsey, executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. “We honor Dr. King’s pilgrimage,” she said, “and we honor his work-from the campaigns to end slums in Chicago to his eloquence in fighting for world peace. Dr. King preached that the ‘arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.'”

Reflecting on Dr. King’s letter from a Birmingham jail, Sen. Hendon said, “What would Dr. King say today? What would Dr. King think about today? I can’t help but feel in my heart that Dr. King would be grinning from ear to ear because we’re about to elect for the first time in the United States of America an African-American as president of the USA.”

Thomas Todd spoke about Dr. King’s efforts during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott:

“After Dr. King led the successful Montgomery boycott, we started going to our television sets every night. What did he say today? So much so until they programmed us to look to one man to tell 25 or 30 million people what to do, an unintended consequence. Dr. King’s marching and demonstrating was not to relieve us of our responsibilities to take care of ourselves, not to relieve us of our responsibilities to challenge wherever there was injustice. We’re not looking where we are. I see contrast and conflict, contradiction and confusion.”

He also talked about present-day issues such as the war in Iraq, homelessness and health care.

“When you got 47 million people in America without health insurance, somebody has been shortchanged. When you see people in Chicago sleeping in the streets and eating out of garbage cans, somebody has been overcharged and shortchanged. In Chicago there is more concern about the torturing of a duck (that’s what Foie Gras is) than torturing of young black men. Somebody has been overcharged and shortchanged.”