Lynchburg community gathers for MLK community conversations

MLK Commission hosting sessions in places King visited

LYNCHBURG, Va. – People are following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's. footsteps through Virginia 50 years after his death. Wednesday night, they gathered in the Hill City to talk about today's meaning of King's famous idea of the beloved community.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission is a state agency touring Virginia for this project. Wednesday night, they came to EC Glass High School, the very spot King visited in March 1962.

A small crowd gathered in front of the exact stage King spoke from on his visit to Lynchburg. People who sat in the seats then heard King say we shall overcome, and Wednesday night, 56 years later, people felt his presence.

"I get goose bumps just kind of thinking about it; his message is very relevant still today. We have come a long way, but we have so much farther to go," said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Virginia MLK Commission Chairwoman.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Virginia organized stops in places King visited. It's a chance to examine the many meanings of King's phrase "the beloved community."

"It's always important to remember the goal, remember what you're striving for and what Dr. King was striving for, the beloved community," Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy said. "We're still working at it toward meeting that goal in 2018."

Chuck Moran was there the day King came and was photographed as an 11-year-old boy shaking King's hand. He was one of the handful of panelists offering their take on King's vision.

"I think we've made a lot of progress, I think generational change happens slowly, but we've got a lot of work to do," Moran said.

While examining the past, this group is focused on the future, brainstorming ideas to keep making the places we call home better for all.

"We have to have that conversation at the community level, off of the computer and out of social media, face-to-face, and then I think we'll get there," McClellan said.

Wednesday night's panel at EC Glass will be archived for people to view online. The King in Virginia project is working to compile all the research from this project into a website documenting King's time in the Commonwealth.

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