The Elmwood United Presbyterian Church in East Orange, New Jersey held their MLK #NextGenActivism Weekend that began on Saturday January 13th and ended on Monday January 15th. The 3 day event consisted of powerful speakers, Pastors, and talented children who believed in Martin Luther King's vision.
On Monday January 15th, I attended the final day celebration which featured Angela Rye as their Keynote Speaker. The Pastor, Reverend Maria Crompton, of Elmwood's United Presbyterian envisioned a celebration that would be led by young people. That vision was brought to life as the day was filled with incredible young people who showcased their various gifts through song, spoken work, liturgical dance, and instruments.
The students came from the following schools:
Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts
Cicely L. Tyson Elementary School
East Orange STEM Academy
Whitney E. Houston Academy
East Orange Campus High School
They were not forced to be involved with the celebration but they chose to be.They not only dedicated their time to practice prior to the event, they were willing to give up their day off to honor the vision and legacy of Martin Luther King. There is something truly special and rejuvenating when young minds come together. There was one particular presentation that stood out to me.
Following the performances was the Keynote Speaker for the morning, Ms. Angela Rye. She is powerhouse who always seems to shake things up with the truth every time she opens her mouth to speak. If you do not know who Angela Rye is, I suggest that you read up on her and the amazing work that she is doing HERE.
Ms. Rye boldly spoke about the true meaning of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. She eagerly encouraged the audience to not be content with solely being a social media activist, but to go out in the world to put in the work for change to truly occur! She even brought us to church with quoting several Bible versus. My favorite verse she spoke on came from James 2:17: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone". She used the scripture as a plea for the audience to go beyond their faith to boldly become proactive with acquiring a positive change for African Americans. I delighted in her emphasis for believers to go beyond prayers and believing for things to be better but to go out to MAKE things better.
Ms. Angela Rye would not be who she is if she did not candidly speak on the current political state of America. She made humorous yet straightforward remarks about "President" Trump's most recent ignorant comments about Africa. She courageously took a stance by openly correcting his foolish remarks. With her stern voice, she conveyed the value of Africa's rich and natural resources and its legitimate contribution to the world. She concluded her rant with correcting Trump's ignorant comment about Africa being a country! I adored her bold stance and unapologetic words that exposed Trump's bigotry.
Furthermore, Ms. Rye expressed the importance of purpose and vision in regards to reforming America. As a result of knowing one's purpose, she motivated us to never operate off of our emotions when fighting against racism. Her reason being is that work will never get done. Throughout her speech she emphasized greatly on the seriousness of "putting in the work" during the moments when you do not feel like doing so. She mentioned that if she had based her life's work off of her emotions, she would probably have "...never gotten out of bed once Trump was elected as President". Although her comment was received with laughter, the seriousness of her statement still remained.
In summation, I left the MLK event feeling encouraged, educated, and empowered. Having the opportunity to be poured into from the young people and Ms. Rye was truly an honor. I sincerely appreciate Elmwood United Presbyterian Church for coming together to honor the great Martin Luther King.
Below is a video of Ms. Rye delivering a portion of her speech.