What is it that America has failed to hear?
That was one of the questions Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. posed to an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 people at Ohio Northern University’s Taft Memorial Gymnasium.
It was Jan. 11, 1968, but it might as well have been Jan. 18, 2021.
The bitterness and rioting that gripped the nation 53 years ago has expressed itself again today. Though the issues behind the anger may be different, the words of King offer a path to solutions that remain unchanged.
“I will still raise my voice against riots and violence because I don’t think that it solves the problem,” King told the Ohio Northern crowd. “I think it is impractical because an old eye-for-an-eye philosophy can end up leaving everybody blind. … Violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred. It’s all a descending spiral ending ultimately in destruction for all too many.”
King talked about many things that day.
In condemning violence, he said, “It would be an act of irresponsibility not to be as strong in condemning the conditions in our society that cause people to feel so angry that they have no alternative but to engage in riots. What we must see is that a riot is the language of the unheard.”
He also addressed avenues toward change.
“We’ve got to get rid of two or three myths that still linger and that are still disseminated in our society. One is the myth of time. I’m sure you’ve heard that myth because there are all too many people who say that only time can solve the problem. They feel that there is something miraculous in the very flow of time that will cure all evils. … be patient, and just be nice and continue to pray and in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out because only time can solve the problem.”
“I think that there is an answer to that myth, and it is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. … It is necessary to help time and to realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
King was late in arriving for his speech at Ohio Northern. After he flew into the Lima airport from Cleveland, the driver of the car transporting him to Ohio Northern was picked up for speeding between Lima and Ada. In a moment of levity during his speach, King apologized for the tardiness, stating, “I would rather be Martin Luther King late than the late Martin Luther King.”
Within months, King would be gunned down in Memphis, Tenn.
While his life was snuffed out by a bullet, his message remains a strong one today.
ROSES AND THORNS: A friendly face is welcomed into the rose garden.
Rose: To Betsy Winget, who is retiring on Jan. 31 after 17 years as executive director of Senior Citizens Services Inc. She continually looked for ways to involve the center with other community agencies and businesses. Board president Dottie Kaiser noted that in 2020 Winget worked diligently with the health department to open the center so the members would be able to stay as healthy as possible during the pandemic.
Rose: To Mary and Robert C. Stolly, who will celebrate 65 years of marriage on Thursday.
Rose: Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties each had 100% accuracy rates during a post-election audit conducted by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Rose: Some people eat macaroni, while others use it for building. On Tuesday, students at Lima West Middle Schools built racing cars out of macaroni. It was part of a new after-school program.
Thorn: It was the home of a Walmart store, then Big R and later Stock + Field. Soon it will be just another vacant store front in Lima’s Clocktower Plaza as Stock + Field announced it’s closing.
Thorn: Scott Daisy, 39, of Wapakoneta, earned himself a bunk in the Auglaize County jail after he was found shooting off rounds in a wooded area near his home around 3:30 in the morning.
PARTING SHOT: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.