The Rev. Glenn Barnes Sr. speaks to Rotary Club members Tuesday about the kickoff of Kingfest. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
The week-long series of events celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. known as Kingfest got started Tuesday with the Rev. Glenn Barnes Sr. of Pine Hill Missionary Baptist Church addressing a joint meeting of the Pine Bluff and West Pine Bluff Rotary Clubs at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
Barnes, who works for the Jefferson County Sixth Division Circuit Court under Judge Earnest Brown, spoke of the need for the people of Pine Bluff to come together in the spirit of King to create a better community for everyone.
“What is the heart of what Dr. King really stood for?” Barnes said. “Often people want to do things, but if it requires sacrifice, they want to back out. Dr. King’s father was a sharecropper and he saw his father being mistreated by the landowner. This motivated him to fight for equality.”
Barnes emphasized that just as King worked to bring the races together, the residents of Pine Bluff must put aside their differences and work together.
“There are three things that we must do to work together,” Barnes said. “First we must remember the past. Because as it is said, those who do not remember the past are fated to repeat it. We must not try to write a new history, but we must remember history. We must remember that our past is filled with minds of ignorance and hatred.
“Second we must respond to the present,” Barnes said. “Change can only begin once we start talking. It’s not what you say but how you say it. We must put away divisive attitudes and talk and work together.
“Third we must recognize our potential,” Barnes said. “An unknown writer said that the word team stands for ‘together everyone achieves more’ and we must realize that we are one team.
“I challenge all of us today to work together to make tomorrow better,” Barnes said.
Barnes was introduced by Kingfest organizer the Rev. Jesse C. Turner. Turner said that that the local community must work toward creating a more tolerant and equal society.
“Dr. King said that the road ahead is not altogether an easy or smooth one, but we must keep going,” Turner said.
Kingfest continues with a slate of events leading up to the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday Jan. 21:
• Wednesday — Students in the Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel school districts will be encouraged to sign a Freedom of Choice Agreement, which means the student promises to stay in school and to forgo antisocial behavior.
• Thursday — MLK Birthday Bash at Robert F. Morehead Middle School.
• Friday — 7 p.m. Gospel Extravaganza at St. Hurricane Baptist Church.
• Saturday — 9 a.m. to noon free health screenings at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
• Sunday — 7 a.m. eighth annual Justice Sunday Breakfast at First United Methodist Church; 7 p.m. 29th annual commemorative program, with Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth speaking.
• Monday — 2 p.m. MLK Parade down Main Street from the Jefferson County Courthouse to the east steps of the civic complex, followed by a MLK program on the east side of the civic complex.