Charlotte leaders discuss hope and progress on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Hope, progress and the need for continued work were among the topics discussed by Black leaders in Charlotte during a virtual panel on Martin Luther King Jr. Day hosted by the Harvey Gantt Center.
Rev. de’Angelo Dia moderated the “Dream Builders in History” discussion on Monday evening joined by North Carolina state Rep. Kelly Alexander, civil rights activist Dorothy Counts-Scoggins and attorney Geraldine Sumter as panelists.
The group spoke about the importance of focusing on voting rights, economics and education in moving forward with King’s vision.
The speakers agreed that while there have been improvements in the lives of Black Americans, there is still a long road ahead.
Rep. Alexander said progress is not always a straight continuum but rather a process with setbacks.
“The important thing is that progress takes place,” Alexander said. “That we are in a better place now overall than we were before. And if we keep pushing we’re gonna end up in an even better place further down the trail.”
Alexander has been witness to this progress. When he was 17 years old, his house was among the four bombed in west Charlotte as part of an attack on civil rights activists. Alexander’s father was the state president of the NAACP at the time.
Counts-Scoggins, who helped integrate Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as the first Black student to attend Harding High School, said in order to keep progressing, younger generations need to vote, advocate and speak up.
“We need to think in terms, not only of ourselves, but we need to think in terms of others,” Counts-Scoggins said. “When we think of Dr. King, that was one of the things that he was trying to preach to us and that is to come together as one in unity.”
Counts-Scoggins emphasized the importance of having difficult conversations as a way of moving forward.