Whalum Encourages Students to Prioritize Lives to Honor Past Heroes
CLARKSDALE — Dr. Kenneth Whalum, pastor of New Olivet Baptist Church in Memphis, brought with him a stern message for students and others at Coahoma Community College during the culminating event of the school’s Black History Month celebration held Thursday afternoon inside the Pinnacle.
The topic of Whalum’s address and theme of the event was based on how to appreciate the Civil Rights leaders of the past with your present day-to-day actions. It was a straightforward commentary that pulled no punches and forced those within earshot to take a critical look at the materialistic and hollow things that many of us place value on.
“Appreciate … to value, to treasure and to give worth to,” said Whalum.
The reverend emphasized those words with a set of photos. The first showed a scene from the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, AL where students had been campaigning for voting rights. A group of marchers met a blockade of state troopers and local law enforcement at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and when they refused to disperse they were attacked with clubs and tear gas. It represented a group of young people who were sacrificing for the betterment and advancement of the black race.
The second photo showed the Nike Outlet in Memphis and a line of hundreds of African Americans waiting outside in the cold weather on the morning of a scheduled release of one of the company’s most popular shoes.
Flipping back and forth between the two photos, the reverend asked the crowd, “How did we go from that (the march), to this (the line outside of Nike)?”
Whalum advised the students, faculty and members of the community that if they truly wanted to appreciate and honor the many Civil Rights leaders of the past, they should do their best to get educated, and become successful. But not for individual gain, but in order to put themselves in positions to extend their hands and help others also reach levels of success.
“You have the power to change things for the better, CCC is a treasure and you should be determined to use it to educate yourselves the best that you can,” said Whalum. “We’ve got to get back to the day where people sacrificed for the good of each other. We’ve got to pull our people up and help them and not just be worried about ourselves.”
Accompanying Dr. Whalum’s address on the afternoon during the program was an interpretive dance performed by Tierra Washington, gospel performances by the CCC Choir, poetry readings and an art exhibition by the Fine Arts Department.
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