Local News

January 20, 2013

King was ‘extremely controversial’ during his life

Nwandi Lawson never had to drink from a water fountain designated for colored people. She never attended a racially segregated school. No one was mean to her growing up simply because she was black.

It’s a different world for people today who remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions to the civil rights movement, she said, and because of that different world, it’s easier to forget all the work he did in his life outside of his “I have a dream” speech.

Those efforts include his opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam conflict, his spiritual leadership on topics that are more personal than social and his efforts to fight for people other than minorities, she said. Lawson highlighted some of those issues as she spoke to about 80 people gathered at First Baptist Church of Dalton Saturday night for a banquet honoring King’s legacy. The banquet also raised money to cover expenses for this weekend’s activities put on by a local committee that oversees Dalton’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.

Joan McGovern, one of the members of the committee, said Lawson is a friend of hers and a fellow native Californian.

“She’s the first woman to speak in Dalton (at the event),” McGovern said. “It’s history being made in the Dalton area.”

Lawson is the president and CEO of Reve Productions and has worked for PBS and CNN. She has hosted and produced Georgia Public Broadcasting’s coverage of the Georgia Legislature for several years.

“I’m part of the first generation of African-American people born in America who saw the full benefits of the civil rights movement,” she said.

King was 39 years old when he was assassinated in 1968. Despite the reverence given to him today, he wasn’t so widely regarded in his time, Lawson emphasized.

“At the time of his ministry, Dr. King was extremely controversial,” she said.

After a speech denouncing American involvement in the Vietnam conflict for taking lives on both sides and resources that he said could be used toward fighting poverty, an article in the Washington Post declared he had “diminished his usefulness to his cause,” Lawson said. Others said he was beginning to “dilute the movement,” she said, as his focus shifted from the civil rights movement to human rights.

“And still he continued to do the work,” she said. “The barbs were coming in from all sides.”

King, she said, also spoke in favor of universal education, believed that science and religion operate in harmony rather than opposition (“Science investigates, religion interprets...” he said), and preached that, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Celebration of the MLK holiday continues today with an Ecumenical Service at 4 p.m. at Shiloh Baptist Church sponsored by the Concerned Clergy of Greater Whitfield County. Paul David Smith, executive principal at Howard High School in Chattanooga, will be the guest speaker.

McGovern’s husband, Al, who is also a member of the committee that organizes activities, said it’s important for younger people to learn about who King was.

“It’s a teaching process, it’s a reflective process and it’s not just the black community, which I think is too often thought of as being his only concern,” Al McGovern said. “He’s been described as a man of all people and for all people.”

On Monday at 9 a.m., there will be a memorial wreath laying at the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. A community prayer breakfast at the Mack Gaston Community Center begins at 10 a.m. Monday. There is no charge for the breakfast, and everyone is welcome to the wreath-laying ceremony.

Text Only
Local News
  • Dalton State turtle 4.jpg In the mood for love: Encouraging breeding, saving species

    For one Dalton State College couple, a cool misty shower is more effective than Barry White and candles at turning thoughts to love. And keeping this couple feeling amorous could mean survival of the species.

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Beaulieu expects 2,000 employees to be affected by week-long shutdown

    About 2,000 employees of Beaulieu of America in Georgia and Alabama will be affected by the company’s plans to conduct an inventory of its buildings and facilities next week.

    August 1, 2014

  • Moral monday 3 mlh.jpg Four ‘jailed for justice’ tell their stories

    Arturo Martinez was just 8 when his family came to the United States from Mexico, and though he is one of more than 500,000 young undocumented immigrants granted deferred removal by President Barack Obama, Martinez said his dream of pursuing higher education is out of reach because of Georgia policies.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tanner Blackton: Diners, servers must show understanding

    Try to imagine this: You’ve been on your feet for hours, hoisting heavy plates, buzzing from table to table, taking orders, running food, refilling drinks. All the while, you have a smile plastered on your face and a go-to attitude, even when people blame you for things that are out of your control, berate you for accidentally mixing up an order, or loudly complain about being seated underneath an air conditioning vent.

    August 1, 2014

  • Bugs and Kisses 1 mlh.jpg Local stores expect tax holiday to create lots of sales

    Local retailers say Georgia’s sales tax holiday weekends mean big business for them, and they are gearing up to capitalize on this year’s tax-free shopping on Friday and Saturday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Esme file mw 2.jpg Still fighting

    Ten-year-old Esme Miller was celebrated earlier this year for the way she’s handled a bout with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historical photos of Murray County needed

    Maybe you have a photograph of a well-known preacher from the 1940s. Or maybe you have a photograph taken of a church choir from the 1920s.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DOT wants your input on transportation needs

    As state and national leaders consider alternatives for funding future transportation needs, the Georgia Department of Transportation wants to know what Georgians would like in their 21st century transportation system and how they recommend paying for it.

    July 30, 2014

  • Jail for Justice Tour event here tonight

    The Moral Monday Georgia Coalition, the NAACP-led multi-racial, multi-issue advocacy group, will host an event in partnership with the Georgia Dreamers Alliance, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA), Whitfield NAACP and the Whitfield County Democratic Party at Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center tonight from 5 to 9.

    July 30, 2014

  • Two charged with tampering with evidence in drug investigation

    Two people have been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the synthetic marijuana bust in February involving a Dalton business owner.

    July 30, 2014