Honoring MLK Together with All Faiths

Interfaith Worship Held by Duluth NAACP

DULUTH, Minn.- Follow the sounds of gospel music and clapping hands, and you’ll find a large, jubilant group at the Peace United Church of Christ.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

The Duluth Branch of the NAACP gathered the crowd to honor the freedom–fighting life of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., and the legacy that shines bright to this day.

“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

Before he was a civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor.

He may have dreamed of impacting congregations as diverse as this one in Duluth.

On Sunday, they honored the legacy he left behind, fighting for equality side by side.

“I think it’s very beautiful,” said Salaam Witherspoon, Chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee. “And it means a lot, especially to us as a planning committee because we put a lot of work into it to ensure that all of our events are free.”

“We do a lot of fundraising just to ensure that people are able to enjoy.”

The spirit of King could be felt in the packed church, through song and dance.

Electrifying music coursed through bodies and made them move.

The service was part of a larger weekend of MLK Day events.

The theme: The Current Crisis.

Because despite how far we’ve come since King’s time, there is still more work to be done.

“Racism isn’t confined to one place,” said Andrea Gelb, Chair of MLK Interfaith Worship Services for the NAACP. “And we have a hard time retaining people of color in our community because of bias and because of lack of culture.”

Still, glee was in the air.

Rather than mourn King’s passing, they rejoice all he taught, and all he accomplished.

Rabbi David Steinberg of the Temple Israel chants verses from the Talmud, the inflections and syllables taking over his body.

Following him, Deborah Faul of the Islamic Center Twin Ports delivers a speech, linking King’s words to Islam and to modern issues.

The worship was interfaith. Organizers say that best serves King’s vision, of everyone striving forward together.

“The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought everybody along,” Gelb said. “There wasn’t anybody who was supposed to sit on the sidelines.”

“It’s all our work.”

According to Witherspoon, that’s important to remember, while trying to move forward.

“We’ll keep on going back, it’ll be like, revolving door,” she said. “We need each other. It’s what makes it work, I mean there’s just no way that you couldn’t include all of us. Cause we won’t have good results.”

“Jesus is the light, I’m gonna let it shine!”

At the front of the room, everybody lights a candle while singing a song as bright as the flames.

“In my brother’s heart, I’m gonna let it shine!”

Black and white, young and old, they all contribute a flame to the bright light of unity.

“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

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