Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tony Castro Co-Sponsors Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. Birthday Breakfast Celebration
Joins With Reverends Van Leu of Mount Vernon and
Crumpton Of Tuckahoe In Sharing, Caring, and Prayer
Last Monday morning, January 19th, The Guardian was present when, on the 80th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth, some 130 residents of Mount Vernon joined Tony Castro and Reverend Van Leu of Mount Vernon’s Centennial Zion Church, as well as Reverend Crumpton, of Tuckahoe, for a breakfast under the tent in honor of the life and works of the martyred civil rights leader and advocate for non-violent protest.
Castro told the crowd, who had gathered despite 20-degree temperatures and snow-covered sidewalks, “On April 16, 1963, an American civil rights leader whose 80th birthday we celebrate today, wrote a letter from the city jail in Birmingham, Alabama.” Castro explained, "Imprisoned for his part in a non-violent protest, Dr. King patiently explained why his movement for justice simply could not wait, despite
the urgings of others.”
Referring to the inauguration which would follow on Tuesday in Washington, Castro said, “Tomorrow, America fulfills Dr. King’s dream of a nation rising up and living out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident, That All Men Are Created Equal.’”
He went on, “Tomorrow our president will be a man judged and chosen not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. Tomorrow the age-old barriers will fall Yet, tomorrow the struggle for social justice and civil rights goes on, even in the streets and courtrooms of this city and this county.” His reference was a clear reminder that people of color, Blacks, Latinos, and others for whom
Dr. King had worked so long, continue to be victimized by crime and violence in greater numbers in the streets of Mount Vernon and Yonkers, and often re-victimized in courts throughout the County.
Reverend Van Leu and Reverend Crumpton each made the point, with impassioned prayer and declarations, that although there was great reason to be gratified with the progress we had made as a nation, as exemplified by the election of Barack Obama, still there was much to be accomplished in the day-to-day existence of hard-working Black and Latino families with respect to treatment by government, and society generally. They emphasized the need to remain vigilant in the continuing struggle for human rights and dignity.
Interviewed by The Guardian, following the breakfast event, Tony Castro said, “There was a general feeling on the part of those who attended, of gratitude, accomplishment and hope. People were grateful that Dr. King’s dream was fulfilled in the election of an African-American president and, furthermore, that it happened in their lifetime.”
Asked how he would characterize the feelings of those with whom he spoke, pausing momentarily, Castro observed, “Despite all of the euphoria regarding the momentous and historic event, most acknowledged that much remains to be done, particularly in the area of social justice.
They expressed hope that the change promised to the nation by Barack Obama would be felt here in Westchester County, and that there would be greater respect for, and enforcement of, civil rights by those in a position to uphold and enforce the law.”