By Matthew Young, Real WV
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.”
Those words, first spoken by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., more than a half-century ago, were spoken again yesterday in West Virginia by journalist Asra Nomani.
Born in India, Nomani grew up in Morgantown. After college, Nomani spent time as a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, before accepting a correspondent-position with Salon.com in Pakistan. Yesterday, when Nomani repeated the words first spoken by Dr. King, she did so in honor of her friend, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by terrorists in 2002 simply for being Jewish.
On stage at the Culture Center in Charleston – and with her parents by her side – Nomani told those in gathered attendance: “Whether we agree on every point or we disagree, Dr. Martin Luther King taught us, very clearly, that we cannot live with a hierarchy of human value.”
“We can never return to that place where there is a hierarchy of human value amongst us,” Nomani continued. “We must see each other in our own image, and in the image of those we love. It is only in that way that we will truly accomplish the great vision of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Nomani spoke as part of the Ecumenical Service to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. The theme of this year’s event: “It starts with me.”
Hosted by Deputy Commissioner of the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission Jacqueline Proctor, the service featured performances by the Capital High School VIP Choir and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Male Chorus, as well as the “Living the Dream” awards presentation.
The recipient of the 2023 Scholarship Award – which is “presented to a person who has made significant contributions in the area of education” – was Marshall University History Professor Dr. Montserrat Miller.
The recipient of the 2023 Sharing of Self Award – which is “bestowed to an individual who has rendered service to others in the public or private sector” – was President of the Berkeley County Diversity Council Takeiya Smith.
The Governor’s Living the Dream Award is “presented to a person who best exemplifies all of the characteristics of justice, scholarship, sharing of self, human and civil rights, and advocacy of peace, with a recognizable sense of civic awareness and public service.”
Because of his more than 60-years of dedication to the cause of promoting human and civil rights, the 2023 Governor’s Living the Dream award was presented to Clay County native Dr. Phillip W. Carter, Jr.
The service was followed by a march from the Culture Center to the steps of the Capitol Building for the symbolic ringing of the bell.
Photos by Matthew Young, RealWV.