Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy honored at Sunday service

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The Eastern Mennonite University hosted event brought together community members to reflect on the past and honor the work and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Not many seats were left open in the Simms Center auditorium. | Credit: WHSV

There were few seats left open in the auditorium of the Lucy F. Simms, where McClellan and others, spoke about the progress of African-Americans, but said that Martin Luther King Jr.'s work is not yet finished.

"He lived and died trying to achieve a beloved community where racist, sexism and hatred didn't exist, and we are not there yet," McClellan said.

Community members honored Martin Luther King Jr. through prayer, music and reminiscing on history.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been celebrated for over 30 years, but McClellan says everyone still plays a role in pushing king's dream.

"Everyone plays a part. He would say the arch of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice, but it needs help bending from us," McClellan said. "We just have to stay focused and committed to helping bend that arch."

Speakers at the event mentioned the importance of looking back on our nation's history so that the country never finds itself reliving the past.

"It is really important that we are telling a complete history and all of our history because we can't understand who we are as a people today, and where we need to go if we don't know where we came from," McClellan said.

Sunday's event ended with the showing of part one of the four-part docuseries, "400 Years Later... 'free-ish,'" which is a part of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Storytellers Project. The docuseries researches the arrival of the first African slaves in 1619, while also exploring the racial inequality in America that still exists 400 years later.

McClellan said she is excited for the new Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument coming to Richmond this summer that will feature ten African-American Virginians who were vital in the fight against slavery and for freedom. One of the ten featured is Harrisonburg's own Lucy F. Simms.