Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler praised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for fighting against injustice and advocating for equality during a virtual ceremony Monday.
“We are beneficiaries of his selfless service to humanity,” Butler said. “I think Dr. King would be proud of us to continue his legacy because the job is not finished.”
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Celebration was held virtually this year. Butler, local pastors and elected officials gathered at Victory Tabernacle Deliverance Temple to host the event honoring the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Bishop Hayes T. Gainey of Good Shepard Community Ministries, who was the keynote speaker, centered his message on “the pandemic of racism.”
“Racism has always existed. Before 1619, before slaves came over to the country in ships,” Gainey said.
“This pandemic of coronavirus, we’re approaching the death of 400,000 people and it’s alarming. But, I say to you, what’s more alarming is racism, the pandemic of racism has killed a whole lot more than 400,000. This sickness, this ungodly, unjust situation must be eradicated in our society because George Floyd deserved better than that, Breonna Taylor deserved better than that, Trayvon Martin deserved better than that,” Gainey said.
He preached on the importance of hope despite the current times.
“This problem of racism may not go away in our day and time. But I want to tell you, in the midst of the crisis, in the midst of this pandemic of racism, God is going to do a shift in the atmosphere that’s going to allow people to have hope in times like these,” Gainey said.
“Stay on the high moral ground, and we will win. Love yourself, and we will win. Love your neighbor, and we will win. Love everybody, and we will win. Don’t give up, and don’t give in,” Gainey said.
Orangeburg City Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt encouraged the community to continue the work of King.
“John Brown, Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer and Congressman John Lewis died so that Rosa Parks could sit. Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers and the NAACP members could march. Martin, Medgar and NAACP members marched so that Jesse Jackson could run. Jesse Jackson ran so that President Barack Obama could become president. He was elected president of the United States of America so that Steve Benjamin could become mayor of Columbia, South Carolina; so that Bishop Michael C. Butler could become the mayor of our great city of Orangeburg, South Carolina,” Keitt said.
“We must continue to strive for dignity and respect,” Keitt said.
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