WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered at a ceremony at the Israel Embassy yesterday, marking the 56th anniversary of his birth, for not only fighting for social justice for Blacks, but for all people who suffered discrimination.
The ceremony, attended by some 100 Blacks and Jews, also marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Forest in Israel’s Galilee which now has more than 10,000 trees.
Max Kampelman, chairman emeritus of the committee that established the forest, said King was a “fighter not just for the welfare of Blacks but a fighter for all who suffered injustice. He was a fighter for democracy and freedom.”
He said those who supported the King Forest hope its “growth will be a growth felt all over the world as people who are either themselves victims of discrimination or bigotry, or who are sensitive to the discrimination that might be levelled against others, continue to join together and struggle for democracy and liberty.”
KING’S CONTRIBUTIONS RECALLED
Israel’s Ambassador Meir Rosenne said that King, who was murdered nearly 17 years ago, is “not dead” as long as people “remain faithful to his ideas.” He noted that 25 years ago King was one of the first to raise his voice concerning the struggle for freedom of Soviet Jews at a time when many “hesitated” to do so.
Washington Mayor Marion Barry Jr., who was himself active in the civil rights struggle in the south, said “It would have been impossible for us to continue our movement” without the “life service” given to the struggle by Jews.
He said that King “recognized all of us are bound together in a bond of mutuality.” He said that for groups to achieve progress in the U.S. they must build coalitions with other groups. “In a multiracial society no group can make it alone, “Barry said. He said Jewish unity helped Jews make progress because Jews also made alliances with other groups.
Eric Fox, president of the Jewish National Fund of Greater Washington, also noted that King was not only a leader for Blacks but for Jews as well. He stressed that there is “far more that unifies” Blacks and Jews “than anything that separates us,” pointing out that Jews are demonstrating with Blacks at the South African Embassy here against the “abomination of apartheid” and Blacks continue to support Israel and the struggle for Soviet Jewry. “Always keep in mind that only our enemies want to develop strife between Blacks and Jews, “Fox said.
A POIGNANT NOTE
Lenore Siegelman, vice chairman of the King forest committee, told the gathering that the National Leadership Council of the JNF has announced that it is contributing a grove at the forest in memory of Dr. King’s father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., who died last year.
The ceremony at the Embassy ended on a poignant note as the choir of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church sang “We shall overcome,” with many of those standing in the audience linking arms and singing along as was done during civil rights demonstrations. Earlier, Joe Glazer, a local folk singer and labor troubadour, sang the song in Hebrew.