Clark University will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a program featuring a talk by the Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd, pastor of the Greater Framingham Community Church. The event takes place Friday, Jan. 20, at 5:00 p.m. in Tilton Hall.
Rev. Lloyd’s background and vocation make him a fitting choice to help the Clark community honor Dr. King’s legacy, according to Margo Foreman, vice president and chief officer of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I hope that the Clark community can join me in recognizing the familiar spirit and passion that Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd shares with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Foreman said. “Like Dr. King, Dr. Lloyd is a scholar and great orator who not only is a faith leader who supports his community, but who is unafraid to speak out against practices or policies that keep people oppressed and impoverished.”
Lloyd acknowledges the influence that King had on his life and ministry. He served for seven years on the ministerial staff of Twelfth Baptist Church, which was King’s church when he lived, studied, and ministered in Boston in the 1950s. Lloyd says that working with people who had known King gave him a unique appreciation of the great man’s background.
“He was a son of the church, as much as he was a son of the South,” Lloyd explains. “He was a great force in moving the black church forward where the church had in so many respects become stoic or maybe accepting of the way things were. King was a trailblazer in the church as well as in society.”
While King was formed and deeply influenced by the Christian tradition in which he practiced, his message clearly resonated with people of all faith traditions, and those with none at all. While he, too, lives and works within the Christian tradition, Lloyd says that honoring King’s legacy is largely about finding inspiration in heroes, especially when young people are in search of role models for creating positive change.
“They certainly want action. They don’t want to wait for change,” he says. “Dr. King certainly took action on the front line. One of his great pieces was his book on the whole idea of ‘why we can’t wait.’ Those things ought to resonate from one generation to the next, whether or not a person has a faith tradition.”
Within his lifetime, King’s activism inspired and unified people of many backgrounds. “Especially when it got down to things like the Montgomery bus boycott, and then later the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, you saw people from a whole lot of faith traditions who woke up and said, ‘This is our struggle as well.’ And they met him on the front line. The wakeup call was not only for churches but for people of all different stripes to come together.”
If King were alive today, Lloyd believes he would be speaking out against the worsening economic inequality in society, on hunger and food insecurity, and on the depletion of our planet’s natural resources — and how all of these things are interconnected. Lloyd also thinks the civil rights leader would celebrate the progress that has been made against institutional racism while also confronting continued injustices. “He would be a voice saying, ‘We didn’t start off thinking the road would be easy.’”
It falls to those who follow in King’s footsteps to carry on this legacy, Foreman says. “Dr. Lloyd and Dr. King can teach us how to organize and use peaceful measures to achieve social change through demonstrations and negotiation that press toward a future that provides equity and hope for generations,” she says.
“Where we go from here” is a subject that Lloyd intends to address in his Jan. 20 talk. He hopes to leave attendees with “a realistic understanding of the times we live in, and that they feel hopeful about intentional engagement to make a difference.”
“I want to celebrate the fact that sometimes just merely showing up is making a difference. Certainly, the fact that you’re at the table makes a difference. But beyond that, having a voice at the table that is heard makes a difference. Don’t give up on that.”
“An Evening with Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd with music by Marshalee Kehlhem” will take place Friday, January 20, at 5 p.m. in Tilton Hall. This limited-capacity event requires a ticket, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.