‘Why Not?’

CHAUTAUQUA – Locally, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is still making a profound impact.

Monday morning, the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr., director of Chautauqua Institution’s department of religion and president emeritus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, spoke at the institution’s Hurlbut Memorial Community United Methodist Church for the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

The service included hymns, excerpts from speeches given by Martin Luther King Jr. and two solo vocal performances.

“Could it be that Dr. King was an anonymous Chautauquan?” Franklin asked attendees, noting that MLK embodied values similar to the institution’s philosophy.

Franklin’s message was clear -people, even locally, can make a “Why not?” dream a reality. Essentially, Franklin was persuading attendees to dream big, to say “Why not?” to questions about equality, justice and eliminating poverty, to continue MLK’s dream of a unified society.

According to Franklin, people cannot lose by dreaming big, getting a bit uncomfortable and combating the status quo.

Using an excerpt from a speech by Mother Teresa, Franklin explained that as people, even though things do not work out as planned, we should give our best anyway, in the hopes of positively impacting those around us.

“Chautauqua is a place for dreamers; that’s why Dr. King would have loved this place,” Franklin said.

The service’s closing remarks were given by the Rev. Dr. Paul Womack, church pastor.

Each year, area residents gather at the church to honor the legacy of King and apply the principles he lived by in their own lives.

In a recent letter to the editor in The Post-Journal, Franklin said that he believes King would be pleased to see how people celebrate his life and legacy by gathering for interfaith and interracial services, as well as continuing to work towards eliminating poverty, racism and violence.