Dr. King’s power of perseverance seen through the eyes of the community

In light of the challenges of COVID-19 and our current political climate, The Weekly Challenger asked the community how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words inspire them.


Hillary Van Dyke

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” are alive and well to me right now. COVID-19 has made clear the inequities that are deeply rooted in American society, and the way this community has stood up for its own during this time is a sight to behold. Even the way that the Green Book of Tampa Bay has grown, despite a global pandemic, is truly indicative of the way the community, despite so much loss, still goes hard for Black people and Black-owned businesses. I am humbled to be any part of it, and I thank you for letting me call St. Pete my home and being my neighbors.

Jessica Estévez

Love without centering fear is my personal mission, a declaration of my principles. It’s an invitation to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, heart and body, daily. Through that mission, I heed Dr. King’s words to “build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” I build courage by catalyzing the power of community and belonging. It fuels me to love mercy, to seek justice and to walk in Truth in the midst of uncertainty and fear.

Amar sin miedo, es mi misión personal, la declaración de mis principios. Es una invitación a ser transformada por la renovación de mi mente, corazón y cuerpo. Atreves de esta misión, yo escucho las palabras de MLK Jr. donde nos invita a “construir diques de coraje para contener los torrentes de miedo.” Mi coraje crece cuando puedo acelerar el poder de mi comunidad y sentimientos de pertenencia en ella. Mi fuente de energía viene por medio de la bondad, justicia y el caminar en la verdad durante la incertidumbre y miedo.

Sheena Qualles-De Freece

So many of Dr. King’s quotes resonate within my soul and have guided my actions” …whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Your life’s contribution should reflect the greatest of your heartfelt causes that leave enduring footsteps and a lasting legacy of who you were! Empowering your community requires sharing your indelible humanitarian footprint with conviction and understanding that community service roles takes many forms: change agent, innovator, collaborator, philanthropist and more. My philosophy regarding community responsibility is built on the understanding that a person’s obligation to their community includes cooperation, mutual respect and interminable participation. The unified courage and strength of community can, as Dr. King explained, “…defeat the flood of fear”. One’s socioeconomic consciousness: love for and of community is displayed by their benevolent actions within that community. Proof of one’s socioeconomic consciousness: love for and of community is by being a pillar of righteousness within the community…” at times of challenge and controversy,” as Dr. King espoused. When you devote your altruistic GIFTING talents to your community…the community THRIVES!

Joshua Bean

I recently read a post that basically stated, if you’ve ever wondered what you would have done during any challenging or controversial period of time in our Nation’s often problematic past, you are doing it now. This also makes me think of the MLK Jr. quote above and the impact these trying times have had on my life and so many others in our community.  For me, remaining on the sidelines has never been an option, but after the 2016 election, I knew I had to do more. Anything less was not acceptable. I am now the chairperson of the Social Justice Committee for Temple Beth-El and co-founder of the Green Book of Tampa Bay. I continue to be inspired by MLK Jr. and everything this quote embodies: urgency, sacrifice, and perseverance. This quote also encompasses the countless change agents, activists, and leaders in our local community who have always been doing the work. They are the ones who are consistently driving out darkness with their light and their relentless pursuit for justice. So no matter how bleak our current reality is, I know I can count on members of our beautiful community for solace and inspiration, for strength and hope. I salute them all for being a true living and breathing example of MLK Jr.’s legacy.

Rev. J.C. Pritchett II

We cannot be silent, passive, or timid in the midst of the chaos, conflict and challenges around us. We must be bold, strong and courageous. With intention we must find solutions to poverty, food insecurity and the destruction of Black bodies. This is how we honor and celebrate Dr. King.

BJ Andryusky

Everyone has something to give, and that giving makes a difference.

Ya Levy La’ford

As Dr. King’s legacy inspires our community to answer the call to service, we do so knowing service is a cornerstone to raising our collective social consciousness to address our society’s most pressing concerns. Four years ago, students and volunteers created the “King’s Dream Unite” mural honoring the historic Manhattan Casino. The experience served to encourage the community to recognize the impact of how bridging differences stimulates unity, helps our neighbors and builds a better and stronger St. Petersburg.

This year, Dr. King’s dream once again inspired students, volunteers and the general public to recognize the value of public service, community expression, imagination, and social justice through a second tribute mural across from the Manhattan Casino at WADA on 22nd titled WOVEN. In the same fashion, WOVEN seeks to celebrate the power of service, which transforms Dr. King’s life and teachings into community action to reach common goals.  Just in time of MLK we will shine a light that is the same light Mr. King would have us shine, so others can find their way out of the dark.

Shine your light.

Antonio Brown

You have to keep your focus and your eyes on the prize. Life will have turmoil and trials, but they will not stop you if you have the will and determination to never allow any obstacles to deter you from your mission. Keep pushing your limits.

Nikki Gaskin-Capehart

Dr. King’s words remind me of the importance to remain encouraged and keep moving through times of great adversity. When fueled by reflection, resiliency and gratefulness for our blessings, we can all contribute in some way and strengthen our resolve to serve.

Clayton Sizemore

“What matters is not how long you live but how you live.”

Those words are more important to me than ever as we rise out of the political fog and pandemic that will always define 2020. Now more than ever, we must understand that Our Health Is Our Wealth and take the steps necessary to be healthy and mindful.

Linsey Grove

The past year has taught us so much about the power of fear. Fear of science, of others, of change; as much as we think these are new issues for humanity to tackle, they have been struggles since ancient times. Progress is not borne out of these fears but out of the efforts of those who are courageous enough to take them head-on; researchers and medical professionals willing to sacrifice their safety to fight infectious disease, citizens fighting oppression at the ballot box and in their communities, and accepting the ever-evolving democracy we cherish as it marches toward that more perfect union. These pillars of strength in the face of overwhelming adversity are the ones that build the foundation for future generations’ progress and advancement. Without them, we’d succumb to the natural temptations of fear that yield complacency, stagnation, and isolation. Therefore, after a year of fear, let’s learn from those terrors and build a future that propels our courageous visions and dreams forward.

Carl DeVine

We are the change we have been waiting for; let’s make it happen.

Karen Chassin

For those newly awakened to the enduring tragedy of racial injustice in America: do not waste a minute of this pivotal new year. Begin wherever you are and grow in wisdom from there. Your voice, vote, and influence are needed to create change. Stand up for Black lives. Oppose racist policies and practices. Disrupt a status quo that privileges white interests. At long last, let us support communities of color in forging a more just, equitable and righteous America.

Zebbie D. Atkinson IV

We should not have to wait for things to go wrong before we take action.  We should be at our local city and county council meeting helping to create policies, not waiting until they are enacted before we find out what they are.  We should be meeting with police officials before there are inappropriate actions from their officers in our communities.  In the school system, we should be meeting with our children’s teachers before parent-teacher night (if they still have those) so that we are aware of our children’s progress prior to report cards coming out, and we should be ensuring that our personal safety is a priority at all times. If you are always ready, you don’t have to get ready.

Caprice Johnson Edmond

If the struggle was easy it would not be a struggle but, out of the struggle comes triumph! You were meant to accomplish great things! Take a leap of faith and soar!

Carrie Hepburn

We are living in unprecedented times – accurately described in a Blavity headline last fall, “We Are Fed Up With Fighting A Pandemic Amid A Pandemic.”  It can be easy to become overwhelmed and almost paralyzed with anxiety, fear, or even exhaustion from the weight of living while Black.  These words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr eloquently encourage us to do what we can, while we can, when we can.  Even small progress is indeed progressing.  Stay motivated and consistent. And most importantly, don’t stop.

Kori Monroe

If you’re a Black person in America, you have the bloodline of someone who was strong, mentally, physically, and spiritually. One of your ancestors was kidnapped, chained, placed on a ship, made a three-month journey over the ocean cramped in a space no bigger than a coffin and fed slop, surrounded by sickness, and possibly raped. That same blood runs through your veins and you can accomplish anything. Challenge and push yourself beyond outside influences; welcome controversy as fuel and motivation, and celebrate every accomplishment along our journey, the journey of success. You are unstoppable!!

Adrian Taylor

King was about adding real value to lives, a stark contrast to the modern-day, meaningless maneuverings that provide plenty of optics and adjustments, without “quality of life” improvements. I ask myself often, would King, if alive, affiliate with those who invoke his name? And, who has been more or equally impactful since the ’60s?

Leigh K. Davis

You got to go through it to get through it. Perseverance welcomes us all, no matter our abilities, socio-economics, or how much (or how little) we have to give. When we show-up, perseverance blooms. Perseverance thrives with drops of faith: faith in Spirit, faith in oneself, faith in right timing, faith that we are loved.  Amid the rapid currents of change in this country and all over the planet, may we befriend perseverance as our guide to new rhythms of being.

Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall

This is indeed a challenging and controversial time in our history as Africans in America.  In a climate of racial injustice, political insurrection, global pandemic and economic upheaval where black and brown persons are disproportionately perishing, we must commit our souls to persevere.

We must meet these challenges with the courage to stand steadfast and unmovable, with an unshakable grip on truth, justice, wisdom and hope.

We must have the courage to transform and create new realities, pushing past anxiety, grief, and despair over destruction, disease and death.

And we must understand that the courage to stand takes unwavering faith:  Faith in our God, faith in what our ancestors bequeathed and faith in our ability to endure.

Dr. Ricardo Davis

Doing what is right frequently comes with a price that not all of us are willing to pay.  It takes courage and an inclination to suffer the consequences in the name of righteousness.  Dr. King’s example suggests that he had such strong character that he was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs.

Jabaar Edmond

I feel as we move forward to a future we all dream of, we must intentionally examine our practices and policies on every level, on the path to reach true equity.

Donald Jackson

Man is the measure of himself. You can accomplish anything that you put your mind to. Remember, failure exists only in the mind, so a healthy mind will produce success always.

Carl R. Lavender, Jr.

One’s address or skin color should not determine their life outcome — that is the disruption that the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg seeks to highlight. When working on projects to help the Black community, you must be ready to discuss race openly, candidly, and honestly for yourself and your organization. You should ask the questions: “Where are the Black people? How are Black people being scaled in this moment and in this space? How is whiteness showing up and hindering the Black community?” These types of questions need to be asked without apology to ensure that Race equity indicators improve in the Black community and whiteness is identified.

Randy H. Russell 

Passive responses to uncivil actions knocks society off balance.  Those of us who falsely believe we are ‘unaffected’ by racism need to understand we are part of the disease of racism through silence and passivity. Our silence causes harm.

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