61 years later, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy continues on in Lynchburg

In a fallen world, evil is evident.

Resentment and strife contaminate many areas of the world. But Martin Luther King Jr. and his work during the Civil Rights Movement created hope for a different world filled with Christian love and justice.

King visited Lynchburg, Virginia, March 27, 1962, amid a time of division and conflict. As the head of the Civil Rights Movement, he created a Christian mission field among a society facing so much hate, and he made an everlasting legacy that still makes an impact today. 

King traveled to Lynchburg as a part of voter registration advocacy. Pastor of Diamond Hill Baptist Church, Dr. Fernan  was instrumental in bringing King to Lynchburg. Today, the Martin Luther King Jr. Lynchburg Community Council aims to preserve the legacy King left behind in the 60s. 

“He preached non-violence and treating one as you would want to be treated,” Council President Vivian Carr Miller said. “The primary theme for us is that our city is aware of how we should treat each other.”

When King arrived in Lynchburg, he was met with both welcoming arms and opposition. Not being able to eat at a public restaurant due to the color of his skin, he ate at the Lodge of the Fishermen, the first integrated café. King also visited Diamond Hill Baptist Church, where he met with Fernan. The keynote event of King’s visit to Lynchburg was his stop at E.C. Glass High School where he presented a speech to the youth of Lynchburg. 

“It was a call for action and to inspire people. Don’t give up and don’t give in,” Miller said. 

In the spirit of legacy, the Martin Luther King Jr. Lynchburg Community Council is planning some new initiatives and exhibits to highlight King. Founded in 1991, the council was created out of a desire to honor the legacy of King in Lynchburg and as an advocate for human rights concerns. 

Miller and the community council hope to create traveling exhibits, which will be showcased across Lynchburg City Schools, as well as a revamping of the stationary exhibit featured in the Lynchburg Library on Memorial Avenue. Miller looks forward to a hopeful future within the council and the city of Lynchburg.

“When people come to visit, we want that center to be there and be very relevant,” Miller said. “What we want to do in the future is have more collaboration with other organizations.”

As a long-standing member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Lynchburg Community Council, Miller identifies with King’s message. 

“What I love so much about him is his mindset. There is no room for revenge or condemnation,” Miller said. “Especially in our political climate, human beings are more led to the negative. As the council, it is our job to put his messages out there.”

The community council preserves King’s legacy. According to Miller, as they plan their next steps, there must be an                 aspect of inclusiveness. 

“Let’s work together. We can have our differences, but we should have that aspect. We want to keep the dream alive, what he believed in and what he died for,” Miller said. 

There are currently vacancies in the Martin Luther King Jr. Lynchburg Community Council. Appointments will open in June for those interested. For donations or to learn more, visit its website or on Facebook

Pace is the asst. feature editor for the Liberty Champion

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