By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That was the sentiment of The Christian Ministerial Fellowship of Newburgh & Vicinity as they held their 54th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Celebration at the Cathedral at the House.
“Dr. Martin Luther King said our lives begin and end the day we become silent about things that matter,” said Elder Jesse Howard. “At The Christian Ministerial Fellowship, we are loud and proud about the things we stand for and against. Whether we are walking out in support of voter rights, speaking out against injustice in our justice system, or standing in solidarity with the homeless and poor throughout this county. We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by refusing to keep silent.”
The Christian Ministerial Fellowship of Newburgh & Vicinity helps the community by giving support with emergency housing and book awards to high school students for college. The organization was formerly known as the Black Ministerial Fellowship and began in 1984. Every year they bring the community together in the city of Newburgh on January15th, Dr. Martin Luther King’s actual birthday, rather than the 3rd Monday in January.
Bishop James A. Rollins, Senior Pastor of The Tabernacle Church in Middletown, NY, gave a call to action.
“It’s time for us to get out here in these streets,” said Bishop Rollins. “When I look at the things that are going on around us, I realize that sometimes it’s so easy to get sidetracked and become lackadaisical. It’s easy to embrace an attitude of apathy… It is incumbent upon us to get out of these four walls.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached nonviolence. The Christian Ministerial Fellowship of Newburgh & Vicinity invited the police department and is working with them to bring about peace in the city.
“God says vengeance is his. It’s not for us. Nothing gets healed in the city if we are going to go an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Violence is not the answer. We have to discuss the situation, bring it to the table and try to do it peacefully. Peaceful marches…. Violence is doing nothing but tearing our city down… That’s not the dream that Martin Luther King had. He had peaceful protests… We try to preach a peaceful message,” said Pastor Willie C. Mays, Jr., President of The Christian Ministerial Fellowship of Newburgh & Vicinity.
Dr. Martin Luther King is best known for his “I Have a Dream” Speech. However, Apostle Jeffery C. Woody, Th.D, pastor of the Cathedral at the House believes that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has not been reached in its fullness yet.
“We’ve come through a lot of barriers that have been broken down, but there are so many more that need to be broken down… in the field of education, employment… So, that’s why we have to continue… to pray, we have to keep on marching… standing up for what’s right… and I believe that we’ll have progress,” said Apostle Woody who has been a teacher and assistant principal for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District and also believes that African American parents must set their children up for success by teaching them at home as well.
But what should we do after the marching? Newburgh’s Mayor Torrance Harvey says we need a seat at the table.
“African-Americans have a stigma because of the color of their skin that we still to this day can’t shake. When people see us when we walk into the room, the first thing they see is our color… We look at African American males and females and look at their treatment with law enforcement. If you juxtapose what was happening in the 50s and 60s and put it in a modern context, it’s still happening to this day. How do we combat that? After we do the marches, where do we go from there?… You have to look at your local elected officials. You want to look at the struggles with police brutality and the struggle with law enforcement in the black and brown community, who is your District Attorney? He’s the prosecutor… This past November in the 2021 election, the District Attorney of Orange County had no one run against him… We have to be smarter than that… Where do we go from the march? How do we get a seat at the table? That’s why I am in the City Council,” said Mayor Harvey who also teaches History for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.