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‘We must develop leaders that people are willing to follow’

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Cynthia Beverley was recognized by the Middlesex County NAACP-Unit 7091 and the Freedom Fund Committee for her “vision, talent and un-ending dedication.” Above, Beverley (left) accepts her award from Middlesex NAACP vice president and secretary Linda Young. Applauding is Middlesex NAACP president Rev. Tyrone Young. (Photos by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

More than 100 people gathered on Monday at The Beacon in Topping for the 8th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, sponsored by the Middlesex NAACP.

This year’s theme was “Now is the acceptable time.”

Keynote speaker Reverend Angelo Chatmon of Virginia Union University told the audience that “causes and movements don’t stand on their own legs or walk on their own feet, but on the legs of a person and upon the feet of a personality. Causes and movements in the African-American community must be incarnated into a figure we can follow.”

Rev. Chatmon gave examples, such as the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, abolition and Frederick Douglas, and civil rights and Martin Luther King Jr.

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Reverend Angelo Chatmon

He said Jesus “presents to us a model for leadership in a post-modern world. In as much as people will follow a figure, we must develop leaders that people are willing to follow.”

He recalled how Dr. King wrote in his book, “Why We Can’t Wait,” and that he questioned if the non-violent approach would work after his family’s porch was bombed. To gain perspective, Dr. King had to remove himself briefly from the conflict. “You gotta go up the mountain sometimes,” said Dr. Chatmon.

Followers are empowered by their leader. “In order to remain effective in leadership, we must remove ourselves from where cause and context conflict. Separate from them for a moment, so that you can gain and retain your sense of self.”

Rev. Chatmon told the audience, “Now it is time to be figures that our people can follow. Now is the time for us to lead with a connection to the past. Now is the time that we seek theological confirmation, that God is with us in our pursuit of justice. Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time.”

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 01.23.2013

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