(KATV) Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. would have celebrated his 84th birthday today, January 15. It's become a day to remember his message and mission.
Tuesday, local and state leaders spoke at Philander Smith College. The main speaker was the Mayor of Harrison. The city is known as the KKK headquarters, a reputation the community is working tirelessly to shed.
A P.O.Box. That is what Mayor Jeff Crockett says is a tie to the KKK. The leader lives in Zinc, just outside Harrison, but uses the city's mailing address.
It's been more than 100 years since rioters forced black residents out of the town and Mayor Crockett says things have changed drastically, but the infamy remains.
Governor Beebe spoke to the audience. He said, "One of the purposes of the Martin Luther King Commission is not merely to get people to live together, to love together, to work together, to understand one another, to communicate with each other, but also to continue the legacy."
Dr. King's dream was that his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Harrison Mayor, Jeff Crockett says, "We are perceived from the outside world, more than we are in Harrison as being racist." He says the fear is still strong, that is until people actually give the community a chance. "Once they come, they realized that is not what Harrison is."
Mayor Jeff Crockett says, "I've had the question, 'would you run them out of town if you had the chance'. Would I like to? Probably. But would that be right? No. I'd be just as bad as they are."
Harrison city leaders started a school diversity council and a task force to promote a better image. Last year they publicly celebrated Black History Month for the first time. Dushun Scarbrough is the executive director of the MLK Jr. Commission. He says, "I have never had a problem going to Harrison because the myth that you have to be out before sundown."
Mayor Crockett says it's time to set the record straight. "If we as a people are afraid of them, you give them the power. If you are not afraid of them you give them, they don't have any power."
Mayor Crockett says, since he came out talking about how the KKK headquarters is actually in zinc about 16 miles away, residents there have asked him to stop. They don't want the notoriety. It's a town of about 100.
According to Census 2010, the population in Harrison is 12, 943, only 34 of them are black. Mayor Crockett says the jobs are not attractive, but they're getting retirees, some are minorities.
Here are just a few memorable quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
"I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good."
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
"A lie cannot live."
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan."
"The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.""I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
(KATV, Source: MLK Jr. Commission) Little Rock - Jeff Crockett, mayor of Harrison, Arkansas, resents Harrison being considered the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan. Crockett says he will set the record straight Tuesday.
Crockett will be keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission's "Day of Service Celebratory and Service Component," celebrating King's birthday at Philander Smith College on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at noon to 2 p.m.
Crockett is expected to speak for about 20 minutes. Governor Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will be in attendance to make a few comments.
Most importantly, Crockett's message emphasizes on Dr. King's birthday and his vision for the Community of Man, ending Racism, importance of Civil Rights, Justice and Freedom, Faith and Religion, Nonviolence, and Peace in America for the 21st Century.
Crockett says he is looking forward to the event.