The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his life fighting for equality for black Americans, but Queens leaders and clergy members said minority residents of all backgrounds benefited from his activism.
On Sunday, members of Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Sikh groups from all over Queens met at the Free Synagogue in Flushing to discuss how their lives had been affected by the civil rights leader and how they can continue to promote his dream.
“We will work hard to continue to inspire changes and put an end to inequality,” said City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), who spoke at the forum.
Eight representatives from different clergy groups around Queens, including the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the Church of the Living God in Queens Village and the World Sikh Federation, spoke on how the civil rights activist’s work paved the way for other minorities to stand up and seek equal rights.
Dr. Frank Kaufman, of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, a nonprofit that works for peace, said King was considered a martyr to many.
He said residents should not let his death go in vain and urged the dozens attending the program to fight prejudice in his honor.
“Dr. King is probably the most important leader of all time. This is because he tackled our most important problem: racism in America,” Kaufman said.
Swaranjit Singh, a Sikh activist and member of the World Sikh Federation, said in today’s world people have become more divided over their faiths. Singh noted that most religions have similar beliefs of peace and unity and by finding that common ground, the people of different faiths can help make King’s dream a reality.
“We can have different names, but we can have one god. Whatever way you find the name [of god], then you find peace,” the Sikh activist said.
Imam Shamsi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, also echoed this statement and said New York’s diverse community helped to create a culture of acceptance.
“Everyone is connected to another and if you don’t see yourself as connected to everyone, you don’t deserve to live in this century,” the imam said.
The event included musical performances from the religious groups, who sang songs such as “Where Peace Begins” and “Freedom.”
Bishop Ebony Kirkland of the Church of Living God said the gathering of the clergy groups under one roof was a shining example of King’s efforts during the civil rights movement.
“I’m sure Martin Luther King is looking down from the spirit world and smiling today,” she said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2010 Community News Group
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