The Rev. Kelly McKnight remembers worshipping in multiracial church services as a child, so when he took the stage at the Community Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in North Augusta on Sunday, he felt right at home.
McKnight, the leader of Bible Deliverance Temple in Augusta, said being tolerant of people no matter their racial background was something he was taught at a very early age. His father, a tent evangelist, was frequently harassed by police during the civil rights era for refusing to segregate his congregation.
“We were raised to understand that God looked at us as us,” McKnight said. “There’s good and bad in all races, but sometime we got to get over that racial divisiveness.”
McKnight joined several hundred on Sunday who packed the sanctuary of Hammond Grove Word Power Ministry to celebrate King’s life and teachings.
The Rev. Bobby Hankerson, the church’s pastor, said King’s message still rings true decades later. But people shouldn’t celebrate just yet, he said.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Hankerson said. “We’re all in this together. We all have to have a part in this to make our country and community a better place. When we come together, we understand each other.”
Speakers took turns reflecting on King’s life while urging the audience to continue the push for equality.
Music and dance performances were offered by Restoration Praise, of Bible Deliverance Temple; the Augusta Chorale; and Footsteps of Praise, of New Exodus Missionary Baptist Church.
Georgia State Sen. Hardie Davis, the keynote speaker, delivered a fiery speech in an attempt to address a question put forth by King: “Where do we go from here?”
“We still have work to do,” Davis said. “Dr. King declared that ‘I have a dream,’ and that dream is still being realized. He has passed that torch on to us.”
Davis placed an emphasis on the current state of the country and how those in the audience are the difference makers King had dreamed of during his fight for civil rights.
“One day, and it’s not too many days away, we will be able to say in Augusta and in the CSRA, ‘Together at last,’” he told the audience.