For Lincoln Dunn, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the first Black superhero.

Dunn, the young adult presenter at the Greater Framingham Community Church's 37th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, spoke to the packed conference room at the Verve Hotel Boston Natick, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Dunn is a solar consultant at Sunrun.

Dunn explained to the crowd, which included Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky, state Rep. Priscilla Sousa, D-Framingham and several city councilors, that King's message changed after his mother was racially profiled by police officers when he was young.

"What Martin Luther King has done for us is to hold onto our dreams, no matter what setbacks you may face," Dunn said. "I will leave it at this: God doesn't give you a bad hand, he shuffles everyone's cards. The devil's job is to confuse you and make sure you're not the master of your own hand."

'Salt and light of the community':Framingham church gives area people of color a sense of belonging

Dunn concluded by saying that King was the master of his own hand, "and what a job he did when he was here."

The event was emceed by NBC 10 anchor Cory Smith, with an introduction from Framingham State University's chief diversity and inclusion officer, Jeffrey Coleman.

Founded in 1972, GFCC is an interdenominational Christian church. It was organized to meet the needs of suburbanites who desired a Black religious experience. Currently, the church is the largest predominantly African-American church in MetroWest with a congregation that draws from African, Caribbean and European cultures.

Framingham community members share their thoughts

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts, the House Minority Whip, praised the Greater Framingham Community Church and its community.

"That work, that solidarity, is essential in these times," she said. "And to honor the legacy of Dr. King, marching toward his vision and realizing our potential as a people, as a community and as a country."

"The threats to our freedom, our dignity and our democracy are connected," she continued. "The forces of racism and xenophobia, of transphobia and misogyny, the injustice of voter suppression and bigoted violence. The attempts to control us through reproductive freedom bans and book bans — they all deny the fundamental truth that freedom is only found when it is for all, and not for few."

She finished by saying the fight against oppression is intersectional, and that our rights and hopes rest on the strength of solidarity.

"And when I see the love in this room, when I see the work that you're doing, when I look forward to hearing from our young leaders... I feel nothing but hope for the path ahead," Clark said.

Following Clark's remarks, youth presenter and Framingham resident Jaden Barrack-Anidi, a junior at Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, addressed the sold-out room, urging the audience to carry out King's principles.

For Barrack-Anidi, he hopes sharing his personal experiences can help to speak out against prejudice and injustices.

"I believe that difference makers in this world lead by their actions as well as their words," he said. "It is not enough to simply point out the inequalities that still exist around us. But as a collective, we need to act and create change like our forefathers did before us."

Keynote speaker discusses strength, faith and kindness

The keynote speaker for the event was Sonia Jackson Myles, founder of the Sister Accord Foundation, which has the goal of having one billion girls and women learn how to love themselves and each other, according to its website.

Jackson Myles was previously an executive Ford Motor Co., Gillette Co. and The Procter & Gamble Co. Her last corporate role was as P&G's director of global packaging purchasing, managing $6 billion in annual spending.

Jackson Myles was born in Michigan but has lived in Hopkinton, which she considers home. At the event, she spoke for 30 minutes about her life experiences, and spoke about the importance of solidarity.

"Remember, we cannot walk alone, we must come together on one accord," she said. "As we walk, we must pledge that we always march ahead, we cannot turn back."

She then repeated one of her favorite scriptures: "Let us not be weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Howard University Step Team performs at MLK Jr. Celebration

The step team from Howard University, a historically Black university in Washington, D.C., performed for the packed house. For Lettirose Cargill, stepping at the breakfast was like giving back.

Cargill, a senior at Howard and a native of Worcester, called the experience a "full circle moment."

"Church is who showed me stepping, so it's exciting to come back to the place that showed me stepping," Cargill told the Daily News at the breakfast.

Head Coach Amaya Causey started the team in 2018. She told the Daily News that it's exciting for the team to travel and give back to the community.

Sympli Whitney, a Boston recording artist, led the crowd in singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," commonly known as the Black national anthem at the beginning of the ceremony. She also sang her own original song.

Artist Rob Surette exhibited his portrait of Rosa Parks with a short video showing him at the actual bus in the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. The portrait was given to the GFCC.

The event concluded with Whitney leading the entire room in singing "We Shall Overcome."


Original story HERE.