‘What would King do?’: Springfield celebrates MLK Day

Springfield residents honored the life of Martin Luther Jr. on Friday at by answering the question, “What would King do?”

That was the question asked by keynote speaker, Stephen Francis, Esq., president and lead strategist of Franchise D&I Solutions, LLC.

He asked, what would King do if he was alive today to see the lack of equality, economic hardships, deadly hate rallies, the Flint, Michigan-water crisis, the opiod epidemic, gun violence, , the high rate of incarceration in the U.S., and incivility ?

“I believe Dr. King would call attention to the decline in morality, ethics, faith, and righteousness in our society,” Francis said to a nearly-packed room at Clark State Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center. “And to the drop in the ones that have faith, believe in God, and regularly attend houses of worship.”

Francis explained that so many people believe that their cars, homes, job titles, iPhones and other items act as a God in their lives.

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“I believe Dr. King would teach us lessons about how we can achieve justice, address problems, right wrongs in our society, keep the peace, live in harmony, and co-exist without the use of guns,” Francis said, speaking from a dais that included Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland and U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy.

After asking, “What would King do if he was alive today?,” Francis said that it was time to ask a different question, “What would we do?”

“The time for dreaming is over and the time for action is now,” Francis said.

Ruth Lawson, a Clark County resident, said she enjoyed how Francis captured the program theme.

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“I was not a believer in non-violence, but it has been so effective,” Lawson said. “I agree, violence does not solve violence. I think that was a good point made by Dr. King and our speaker.”

Lawson has attended previous Martin Luther King Jr. luncheons to honor what a “fantastic leader” King was because she was in college during the civil rights era and witnessed King marching.

Along with honoring King, the city of Springfield, Clark State Community College and the Springfield Human Relations Board honored three historically disadvantaged businesses, one youth program, and 12 high school peacemakers for their impact in the community.

Keith Moore, a distributor of Black Culture Clothing and a spoken word artist; Jamarr Stinnett, the owner of ARA Investments LLC and Cut 2 Perfections LLC; and Desari Roberts, the owner of Queens Studio- Capture Queen Photography were recognized as the historically disadvantaged businesses of the year.

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Springfield Ohio Urban Plantfolk (SOUP) was recognized for their urban agriculture approach to food security for residents in Springfield.

The high school seniors who were recognized for their ability to resolve conflict and bridge cultural and social differences within their schools were: Ceci Luther, Catholic Central; Kyle Miller, Emmanuel Christian; Emily Ware, Global Impact STEM Academy; James Estes Jr., Greenon; Titus Dean Beard, Kenton Ridge; Alice Foreman, Northeastern; Allex Smith, Northwestern; Jaden Hall, Shawnee; Mozie Van Raaij, Southeastern; Sierra Wade, Springfield-Clark CTC; Jade Morrow, Springfield, and Caitlin Cory, Tecumseh .

“It means a lot,” Hall said. “I just really like seeing people do better and I like them looking up to me as someone that they can role model because I know I liked having a role model. I think that is pretty cool that I get to be that person now for the younger people.”

His mother, Marcie Hall, was proud of him for the peacemaker accomplishment, “I know he knows right from wrong and it lets me know he’s practicing the things he has been taught.”

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