“What can we do?”

Pastor JahVelle Rhone posed this question to viewers of the virtual Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast on Monday morning while celebrating the life of King.

“You can start by speaking up,” Rhone said. “When you know right from wrong. You can start by being bold, being strong, being courageous and standing for what is right. You can volunteer locally. You can vote. You can write your local officials and stand flat-footed on that which you know is right and that which you believe.”

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rhone, associate pastor of the Manhattan Christian Fellowship Church, spoke about his thoughts on social change, his life as a believer in Christ and as a Black man.

“I am a Christian, a father of four, a husband of one, a friend, an educator, a musician, a brother, a son, and many other titles,” Rhone said. “But one thing about that is this, and it will never change about my life, is that I, too, am a Black man. The experiences that I have had have affected me in one way or another, be it good or bad. I’ve been profiled. I’ve been disappointed, surprised and ridiculed.”

He also spoke about the Black lives lost at the hands of police in Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, Sandra Bland and Michael Brown. Outside of Floyd, none of those deaths led to charges against police officers.

“We as a people, and with the same sentiments of Dr. King, we demand justice,” Rhone said.

Rhone said people may not be able to fathom the weight King had to carry until the weight of that responsibility becomes one’s own.

“I can never know the weight Dr. King had to carry,” Rhone said. “However, I can appreciate the sacrifice of what he has done. Just like our parents, we never really appreciated the sacrifice of what they had done until we ourselves became parents and mentors to others.”

Pastor Lucilla Miller of Bethel AME Church led the opening prayer, and Rev. Christian Watkins of Ecumenical Campus Ministries at K-State led the second prayer.

This was one of several events planned by the Manhattan Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee. SEG Media Collective and other community partners helped coordinate this event and create the pre-recorded presentation for Facebook. A community event was held Saturday.

Also during the prayer event, K-State assistant dean of diversity programs Zelia Wiley recognized Arlene Cole, a longtime Manhattan resident who turns 95 at the end of this month. Referred to as Mrs. Cole or Sister Cole, she is the oldest African American living on Yuma Street in Manhattan, Wiley said. She is a member of Bethel AME Church, which is on Yuma Street.

“She’s truly a pillar of the Manhattan community,” Wiley said.

Father Kerry Ninemire of Seven Dolors closed the event with an ending prayer.

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