Editorial: Martin Luther King Jr. pushes us to serve fellow man

Today gives us an opportunity to look at Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

It’s easy to look at the nearly 50 years since King’s untimely death and think not enough has happened to make his “I Have a Dream” speech a reality. There are still shortcomings in the quest for inequality, in our systems and in our hearts. And today is a fine day to reflect on those.

What’s perhaps more impressive is the number of people he helped inspire to a lifetime of serving others in his quest, though.

“Despite the barriers that were placed in front of Dr. King, his vision for a better tomorrow inspired a nation to stand together and speak out against hatred and racism,” Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said Thursday at the 31st annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration in Columbus “Dr. King has forever enriched our heritage and commitment to non-violence, peace, dignity and justice for all. We continue to be inspired by his work today and strive to build a world where individuals ‘will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’”

Several people and groups in Lima continue to fight that good fight in inspiring ways.

Pastor Dianna Shurelds, of Lima, received the governor’s humanitarian award, given to someone who independently acts to serve those in need without question and often without recognition.

Shurelds spent much of the last 30 years preparing and then delivering her delicious home-cooked meals to the homeless. It’s now a part of her ministry at her church, the Church of the Living God in Lima. With her help, many of the homeless she helped now have places to live and contribute to the community. She also works as a probation officer at Allen County Juvenile Court, mentoring youth to find a better way to handle their problems.

Greg Merkel, of Lima, mentors youth preparing for the Lima regional contest of the statewide MLK Oratorical Contest the last seven years, including the past two years as program coordinator. Lima’s entrants have seen amazing results in his time, earning him the governor’s cultural awareness award, showing King’s vision of unity among people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Merkel volunteers through the “I Am Making a Difference” program, which prepares youth in kindergarten through 12th grade for the contest. They also perform community service, such as reciting contest essays at nursing homes.

In fact, two Lima winners from 2015 delivered their speeches at Thursday’s event, including Ezell Matchett, a third-grader in Lima, and Holli Warthem, an 11th grader in Lima.

Locally, we must recognize the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which each year for the past 20 years organized the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast, scheduled for this morning at the Civic Center. The annual event always brings out an impressive cross-section of the community, living up to King’s dream of people being judged by the content of their character and nothing else.

There is still plenty of room to improve race relations in the United States and in Lima. The dogged efforts of these volunteers shows what can be accomplished when you start with King’s dream and try to make it a reality.

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;


The Lima News