By Eddie Grant
In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday several hundred patrons attended a very informative, entertaining and educational event, which is hosted annually by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA).
Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, President of Oakwood University, who delivered the keynote address, encouraged the audience to celebrate and honour the legacy of the late, great, civil rights leader.
The theme of the inspirational and motivational evening was “Reclaim the Dream”.
He reminded the audience of Dr. King’s special and memorable speech, “I Have a Dream”. And he said it has also become a known that “you can kill the dreamer but you cannot kill the dream.”
Dr. Pollard also said: “Today we are here to reclaim that dream.”
And he reminded the audience that in 2008 a young black Senator from Chicago, Barack Obama, was declared the winner of the presidential election to become the first black president of the United States of America.
The guest speaker said that he and his Jamaican-born wife, Dr. Prudence Pollard, who hails from the parish of Portland, were invited to the president’s first inauguration ceremony.
He informed President Obama would be placing his hands on two bibles at his inauguration -- one that was owned by Dr. Martin Luther King and the other by President Abraham Lincoln.
Dr. Pollard said: “This is very important. Lincoln set blacks free legally and Dr. King set blacks free mentally. So, President Obama will take the oath of office in the presence of both men because someone before him dared to dream.”
Dr. Pollard had some direct words of advice and encouragements for his Canadian audience. He told the gathering that we need parents here in Canada to step up to the plate and reclaim that dream by molding their children and raising them to become leaders.
“We need to teach our children to first believe in God, then believe in themselves and have respect for this great country, Canada,” he said.
Dr. Pollard also told the audience that although many immigrants have been living here for more than 40 years, we still behave as though we are guests in this country.
And he remembered members of the audience that once they are born here they are citizens of this country. This is their home, and this is where they belong.
Teach them that everything that Canada has to offer is also available to them. So if we are going to reclaim that dream we must emancipate our children, he said.
Dr. Pollard, who serves as the 11th President of Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, was born in New Orleans.
Also addressing the packed audience were several individuals from here in the City of Toronto. Among them were:
• Jamaica’s Consul General Seth George Ramocan
• Mark Saunders, Deputy Chief of Police
• Deputy Chief Tom Carrique
• Dr. Mansfield Edwards, President of Ontario Conference of Seventh Day Adventist
• Margarett Best, Ontario’s Minister of Consumer Services.
The annual event, attended by a wide cross section of the African Canadian and Caribbean community was held at the McVety Conference Centre in Don Mills, in the Greater Toronto Area.
Entertainment for the event was provided by Hands of Blessing, Rexdale Outreach; Apple Creek Youth; and Oakwood University’s Dynamic Praise choir whose members that travelled to Toronto with Dr. Pollard for the special occasion.