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Community continues MLK’s conversation

By Staff | Apr 6, 2018

Samantha Gray/Chronicle From left:?Pastor Mike Crawford, of Freedom?Church in Baltimore; Latonia Page, a Shepherdstown resident and Gulf War veteran; Daisy Bautista, president of Alianza Student Union at Shepherd; Pastor Rudy Bropleh, of Asbury United Methodist Church; and Thomas Segar, vice president of student affairs at Shepherd, all participated in the panel.

Several members of the community gathered for a meal and a panel discussion on race in the United States at Covenant Church in Shepherdstown on Tuesday.

Pastor Joel Rainey, of Shepherdstown’s Covenant Church, started off the discussionby saying the panel’s goal was to continue the conversation Martin Luther King Jr. started years ago.

“It starts with the majority listening to the minority,” said Pastor Rainey

The panel consisted of Thomas Segar, vice president of student affairs at Shepherd; Pastor Rudy Bropleh of Asbury United Methodist Church; Daisy Bautista, president of Alianza Student Union at Shepherd; and local resident Latonia Page, a Gulf War veteran. The panel was moderated by Rainey and Pastor Mike Crawford of Freedom Church in Baltimore.

Crawford explained why it was important for him to be a part of the event. He told the audience that, in the 1980s, he was a “pissed off black man, ready to get back at the man.”

“God had to do work in my heart,” Crawford said. “I realized it was more about relationships and communication than being mad. If you can’t talk about something, then you’re stuck, and if you’re stuck, you’re stuck. It’s time to get un-stuck.”

One of the questions the panel was asked was its perspective on diversity versus equality.

“We live in a world where ‘different’ makes a difference,” said Segar. “When we talk about diversity, unfortunately we’re talking about data, not equality or connection.”

The moderators asked the panel to give advice on how the audience can continue the conversation in their own lives.

“Eat together,” Page said. “There is no conversation too difficult to have over a meal.”

Segar added that people shouldn’t underestimate their own abilities.

“Be vulnerable,” he said. “And to the young people: Don’t ever think you aren’t old enough. MLK was only 39 years old when he died. You are plenty old enough to change the world.”

Bautista emphasized the importance of caring for others.

“Love someone until they give you a reason not too, and then love them even more,” she said.

“Don’t be a skeptic, be an optimist,” Bropleh said. “When you find, yourself getting mad, take that anger and turn it into motivation. You can actually make a difference.”

Crawford wrapped up the conversation by reminding the young people in the audience that they’re the future.

“Old people don’t tell you that enough, and I can say that because I’m old, but you are the future and it is up to you to make a difference,” he said. “It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be worth it, and you can do it.”