Published: Feb 16, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Feb 16, 2013 04:48 PM
This marked only the 14th year that a holiday in Martin Luther King Jr.s name has been observed by all 50 states.
Not surprisingly, some of my home states politicians tried to stand in the way of celebrating this saint. But since the year 2000, all 50 states have recognized the day. Lately it has become a day of service. The greatest service the church can provide for the world is to pray and that is what we did Jan. 21 on the American Tobacco Trail from Morehead Avenue to roughly the one mile marker at Scott Street.
It may be thought that I tread on ground that is not my own, but Im going to risk it because too many have been hurt and terrorized the last year on the land I call church.
I believe that Dr. King and those who marched in the 1950s and 1960s would stand up for safety today on Durhams American Tobacco Trail.
Some in The Movement wanted King to be done once segregation had legally come to an end, but he went on fighting against war, for the rights of garbage collectors, and other issues of civil rights. Such extended fights probably led to his death.
My civil rights and those of my neighbors, regardless of color, have been compromised. I am angered by the wretched behavior that has gone on this past year on the American Tobacco Trail and what our small community calls The Tobacco Trail Church ( tobaccotrailchurch.com/
). My wife doesnt want to worship in all the locations we once did. She is scared for herself and for her children. She is far from alone.
In this country we have taken seriously the freedom of religion or the right to assemble and worship as individuals and groups see fit. Violence on the American Tobacco Trail has compromised that freedom that particular civil right. I am embarrassed by those in south Durham who enact violence on citizens who use the trail. Why all the violence?
I cry out to the land and the people of the American Tobacco Trail NO MORE VIOLENCE. No more blood. Help your neighbor. Clean up the corner of the trail littered with trash. Fall on your knees and pray to your Father in Heaven that no one be harmed on this trail.
Ive spoken to friends in the hot spots of violence like Fayetteville Street and behind Hillside High School. They want it to stop. This is their home, and their neighbors are desecrating the trail with acts of violence.
We must be able to walk and run and bike on this sacred pathway. We must be able to carry home our groceries. We must be able to meet our friends for fellowship at a sunset. We must be able to connect to Rocky Creek and Third Fork Creek and Cornwallis and Cook and Fayetteville and MLK and United and Pearson, Juliette, Scott and all of the intersecting paths. And yes, I speak on behalf of our little Christian community we must be allowed to worship on the trail.
Some will say that prayer cannot change a thing. But all evidence in my life scoffs at such claims and I will continue to pray for a safe Durham and believe that God intends to make this thoroughfare, the American Tobacco Trail, a place of light, not darkness for the Triangle of North Carolina. Im not giving up. Im not moving. Im not being intimidated. I will arm myself with the prayers of my people and those that have come before me. The Rev. George E. Linney III is the pastor of Tobacco Tail Church.
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