Berean Presbyterian Church, on Broad and Diamond streets, honors Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service every year by hosting community service projects.
Community members and Temple students, staff and faculty participate in the projects. On Jan. 20, they also read aloud King’s famous 1963 speech, “I Have A Dream.”
David Brown, an assistant professor of public relations, organized and facilitated the reading of the speech. Attendees were given copies of the speech and organized in a circle around the room. Brown walked from attendee to attendee, having them read sequential lines from the speech.
“The significance of the speech is that we’re still trying to bridge the divide, we’re still trying to overcome racism, we’re still trying to help marginalized communities, which is what King lived, fought and died for,” Brown said.
Brown credited the original idea for the line-by-line reading to Rosalind Williams, office director at Temple’s Journalism Department. Klein College of Media and Communication will hold a similar reading in the atrium of Annenberg Hall on Jan. 22, he said.
Brown said reading the speech in the church sanctuary was perfect because community residents are familiar with the church and Temple students and faculty could attend.
“It’s especially important to have students from Temple, who may only know King as a day off from school, about how meaningful and how relevant those words that were spoken then are today,” Brown said.
Monarch Rathod, a junior biology major and international student from India, said the event was the first time he read the complete speech, and he felt he learned more about King’s ideas through the experience.
“I kind of get what he was trying to say,” Rathod added. “He’s trying to build the new America. This is coming true. Everyone’s together, all the community are together, we’re volunteering, we’re doing good.”
Rathod participated in the event’s community service project, where volunteers at the event worked on cleanup projects inside the church or assembled first aid kits for use in nearby schools and community centers.
Gregory Bonaparte, president of the church’s board of trustees, directed the event from the stage at the church’s community center. Bonaparte has coordinated the annual events for the past 10 years and the participation of Temple students is an important part, he said.
“It’s been an excellent thing because we have students, as you can see, all over,” Bonaparte said. “We always just work ‘em lightly. Today was a bit different because we didn’t just want to work, we wanted to share Dr. Martin Luther King’s dreams.”
Several members of Temple’s football team attended the event. Kobe Wilson, a freshman communication studies major and football player, said the team attended the event together to bond and help out the community.
“A lot of African Americans have been through so much throughout the civil rights movement and we actually get to take a day off and realize that, which is sick,” Wilson said. “Like to show the significance of that, because without him and without that speech, I don’t think we’d be in the same situation we are today.”