Dr. P. Eric Abercrumbie Presents Martin Luther King Jr. Day Keynote Address
May 27, 2009
Dr. P. Eric Abercrumbie, director of ethnic programs and services and the African American Culture and Research Center at the University of Cincinnati, spoke at the Mount Union Theatre on Thursday, January 15.
Abercrumbie began his lecture by pointing out that it took “from ’68 to ’08,” from Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to Barack Obama’s election, for our country to reach the point that it is at now.
He then began singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “We Shall Overcome,” and many members of the audience joined him. He explained the truth of the saying, “Out of something bad always brings something good.”
“It wasn’t until 1968 that we embraced Martin Luther King and what he was about. We have gone from sadness to joy. This time will go down in history as a time for all of us to remember,” Abercrumbie said. He emphasized that although many are celebrating Obama’s victory, Dr. King should not be forgotten.
Barack and Michelle Obama’s victory have opened doors for others, according to Abercrumbie. He was sure to point out Michelle’s role in the election and the significance she will have in our country’s future. Abercrumbie acknowledged that Rosa Parks and other women were technically the first true revolutionaries.
Growing up during segregation, Abercrumbie recalled some of his experiences, such as having no running water and taking a 40 mile round trip to school. He learned the value of education during this time and observed that his community was conditioned to feel inferior.
Referring to Mount Union as “The Mount,” Abercrumbie addressed the students in the audience, asking them what their true identity is to the community. He encouraged them to make education count and to provide service to the community.
Quoting Dr. King, Abercrumbie said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” He explained that both Obama and King earned their high acclaim because they are loved, which is much different from being liked.
While staying optimistic, he also pointed out, “We’ve come a piece of a way, but we still have a long way to go.”
Abercrumbie is the originator of the Black Man Think Tank, which has re¬ceived national acclaim and is highly rec¬ognized in his work with cultural diversity. He serves as a racial/human relations consultant to corporations, community groups and educational systems.