The universal and inclusive message of nonviolence that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and mission promoted — albeit during the “turbulent ‘60s” — is a uniting message that continues to strive right here in Indianapolis.
The Indiana Christian Leadership Conference (ICLC), currently under the leadership of Dr. Thomas L. Brown, president, and Rev. Marilyn Gill, executive director, was America’s first organization to honor and celebrate Dr. King’s great legacy on his birthday. Under the great leadership of Dr. Andrew J. Brown, ICLC had the vision and foresight to honor Dr. King’s birthday, starting in 1969.
Jan. 16 will mark the 54th annual consecutive Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration, an event that is inclusive of the interfaith communities of Indianapolis.
Please accept this invitation to join a truly interfaith reunion of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and others who united in person for promoting the spirit and determination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Join us at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1651 Dr. Andrew J. Brown Ave. The event starts at 11 a.m., and doors open at 10:30 a.m.
The main event speaker will be Indianapolis’ own Dr. Thomas L. Brown, a philosopher and a teacher whose family has been active in America’s freedom movement since the 1950s. His father, Dr. Andrew J. Brown, worked tirelessly with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for years.
Dr. King’s major initiative or goal was freedom for African Americans, yet his inclusive strategy soon became a catalyst for uniting diverse groups from many paths toward one destiny — the human destiny — that is common in all religions and expressions of faith.
The celebration of the Dr. King’s birthday is so much more than the man, Martin Luther King Jr., as an individual. This celebration is a call to duty that we continue his message, especially in the face of the racial, cultural and political hatred and strife that has reawakened in America over the last six years.
Dr. King humbly identified himself as a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness. In recognition of the importance of drum majors who have served humanity, annually ICLC identifies individuals who have achieved — through service to others — this station in life. The 2023 recipient of ICLC’s Drum Major for Justice Award is Jerry Harkness (posthumously) for his many years of knocking down walls and barriers of racism in sports, the corporate world and media while winning national NCAA basketball championships along the way.
The interfaith component that the Indianapolis community has incorporated into Dr. King’s birthday celebration is a living testimony that the struggle for freedom has promise and longevity. This struggle for freedom, justice and equality didn’t begin with Dr. King, but he courageously — and in the process, he lost his life — picked up the heavy mantle of freeing his people and uniting all of humanity. Dr. King inherited a great legacy that we, people of all faiths, must claim and continue.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great American intellect who has influenced by the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi. It may be important to note that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never met Gandhi. Dr. King was introduced to Gandhi by the great African American intellectual Dr. Howard Thurman. It was in 1935 that Dr. Thurman personally met Gandhi in India, bringing back to America Gandhi’s message of nonviolence. Gandhi noted, “it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world.”
Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317-753-3754.