A look at the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the primary focus of Dr. Lewis Shepherd’s address during Monday’s community banquet at Henderson State University.

A look at the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the primary focus of Dr. Lewis Shepherd’s address during Monday’s community banquet at Henderson State University.
Shepherd was called upon to serve as the speaker only hours prior to the banquet after the originally scheduled speaker Sherman Tate could not attend due to the threat of wintry weather on Monday night.
Despite the short notice, Shepherd delivered an inspirational and thought-provoking address to a crowd filled nearly to its capacity in the Garrison Center’s Grand Ballroom.
According to Shepherd, there were many things that Dr. King stood and pushed for in his life and teachings.
“The first thing that you must notice about Martin King is that he had a relentless pursuit of excellence,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd noted King’s push for excellence was exemplified in academic preparation.
“He(King) finished high school at the age of 15. He entered Morehouse and finished there at the age of 19. He entered Cozer Theological Seminary and finished there at the age of 21, and he completed a PhD in systematic theology from Boston University at the age of 26,” said Shepherd.
Despite his impressive accomplishments, Shepherd noted King did not leave a legacy despite his social status, his eloquent speaking ability or other credentials and accomplishments.
“Others may look at Dr. King and remember an individual who was always in the spotlight and who was always marching for causes,” said Shepherd.
Although King had private conferences with national and international political officials and individuals, Shepherd believes none of these accomplishments and honors constitutes the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“The legacy exists because he was an individual who deeply believed in nonviolence,” Shepherd said.
Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolent confrontations was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ and the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi.
“It was his rallying call to America to stand up for right, with his insightful commentary injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Shepherd said.
According Shepherd, King stressed the importance of excellence by challenging individuals to take pride in their work and doing their jobs well.
“When you look at the life of King, not only will you see his pursuit of excellence, but you will also see his commitment,” said Shepherd, who noted that King was devoted to the causes which he believed in.
In addition, King displayed his commitment in his mission to persuade Americans to develop a tolerance for adversity.
“He understood that once individuals could tolerate those of other races they would learn to accept them and, hopefully, one day embrace them,” Shepherd said.
According to Shepherd, King died trying to empower those who were disenfranchised.
“I think the last thing that we should hear today and move forward with as a part of our lives is that Dr. King exhibited that service must be our motive,” said Shepherd.
Shepherd noted that King always led the way and never asked his followers to do something that he was not willing to do himself.
“In the 11-year period from 1957 to 1968, King traveled more than six million miles, spoke over 2400 times and appeared wherever there was injustice and protests. He understood the role of a servant,” said Shepherd.
During King’s last public sermon taken from the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, King challenged his audience to be like the Good Samaritan who responded to the needs of someone in need.
“Today as we examine the life of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I must ask you are you willing to leave a legacy? Are you willing to strive for excellence in every area of your life? Are you willing to make the commitment that may cost you something you really adore? Are you willing to serve until the end?,” Shepherd asked.