ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Today the nation celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The noted Civil Rights leader was instrumental in the changing of U.S. policies that often demoralized, and ostracized black people in the country. Dr. King would have 93 years old today.
But the fight did not stop in the 1960s, as 60 years later, local church leaders have taken up the mantle, and the fight. Reverend Dr. Dwight Fowler of the United Christian Ministries says things like drugs and guns are hurting the Black community, particularly young people.
He adds that he believes many of these issues are compounded by the pandemic, and other restrictions.
“So many people couldn’t go to church,” he said. “And I believe that that’s compounded with frustration, great confusion, and poverty, along with the fact that income is a great barrier as well. Some have lost their employment, I do not seek to rationalize or to justify or to endeavor to come up with an excuse for anyone, but I think it is the multiplicity of all of those reasons.”
Fowler also excoriated the closure of the Carlson MetroCenter YMCA location, calling the exact type of closure that leads to a loss of community, and a healthy outlet for young people.
Rev. Dr. Fowler has not only taken up the fight of non-violent change, spiritual messaging, and the fight from Dr. King, but he has taken a more active role at the UCLM from Rev. Lewis Stewart.
He goes on to discuss both how a prevalence of guns in the community, combined with the decreasing mental health of the country has put us the violent position we are in now.
“I think the plenty fullness of weapons and people who may be oppressed, may be depressed,” he said “Our mental hygiene of cases, history, has proven that I think all of those things are reasons why we have been having so much violence in the city of Rochester. January the sixth at the Capitol, it’s not just Rochester. It’s a national issue.”
While Rev. Dr. Fowler has not yet spoken with the new Mayor of Rochester, Malik Evans — who has not only made stopping the violence a key campaign promise, but has proposed a community-centered approach — he says its time to find solutions, and to come together.
“Rochester, New York, needs to come together collaborate. On the educational level, the city school district level, on the municipal level as pertains to the county as well as of city hall so that we’ll be able to move forward in a manner that will enable Rochester to thrive in thrust.”
While these issues persist everyday, the Rev. Dr. Fowler says that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a chance to demonstrate what non violence really means, and how to make that the center of change.
“King in non violence is all about exercising that modern new form of militancy that does not engage in physical fighting, but rather the creative redemptive goodwill, which is rooted and grounded in a ‘godly love,'” he said.