Bishop John Richard Bryant looked over the crowd assembled at Wright’s AME Church in Elkton and smiled as he noted the diversity among those attending the 38th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative service on Monday morning.
“In Elkton, Maryland. Well, Amen,” he said.
Using the theme that “truth is unstoppable,” Bishop Bryant went through the life of Martin Luther King, pointing out how he came to prominence in the civil rights movement.
King’s gift was the ability to connect with people, the Bishop said.
“He could see their pain. He could see their burden. He could see their disappointment,” Bishop Bryant said. “And he took a stand for the people he saw.”
He said young people lack the knowledge of the past and do not realize the role that churches played in promoting civil rights. The Bishop said the young did not live through the time when black people living in Baltimore were not allowed to try on a hat or shoes before purchasing them. In those days, it was common for black residents and visitors to pack a meal to bring with them because they were not permitted to dine in restaurants. In the movie theater, black patrons had to sit in the balcony, even if there were seats in the lower level of the movie theater.
“Martin Luther King worked and sacrificed,” Bishop Bryant said, pointing to the improvements in public accommodations, education and housing options.
“And they made him pay with a 17-cent bullet,” the Bishop said, lamenting how a man who preached love and justice was murdered.
But Bishop Bryant said people need to continue to push for truth and to choose love, not hate.
“Truth is unstoppable,” Bryant said. “Love is the better way. Love is supreme…love and justice cannot be defeated.”
Through history, when evil people have killed good people, the goodness of the people lives on, the Bishop said.
Citing the Biblical story of Cain killing his brother Abel, Bishop Bryant said that when God asked about Abel, Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
“God spent the rest of the Bible answering the question,” Bishop Bryant said. “Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.”
Bishop Bryant urged people to continue to work on the ills in society. He said it is still difficult for many people to make ends meet, even working second jobs.
Healthcare is a major concern during a time when the government has pushed legislation that will take health insurance from 13 million people.
He said that people who are pro-life need to extend that compassion to all people.
“They are not pro-life, they are pro-birth,” Bryant said. “They have no interest in how you survive after birth.”
The Bishop said it is challenging to get involved, but necessary.
“You can’t take a stand without taking a risk,” he said, adding that those who take a stand will make a difference.
“Martin Luther King – he’s heaven’s hero because truth is unstoppable,” Bishop Bryant said.