The Rev. Dr. C. Edward Rhodes talks faith and perseverance during Alcorn’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Convocation

Alcorn State University gathered to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy during a virtual convocation.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Convocation was held Monday, Jan. 18, in the Oakland Memorial Chapel. The program was streamed live on Alcorn’s website and official Facebook page.

The Rev. Dr. C. Edward Rhodes, director of Student Religious and Spiritual Life, delivered the ceremonial address. In his speech, Rhodes focused on the Convocation’s theme, “By All Means Keep Moving: Progressive Leadership in Perilous Times,” by motivating listeners to keep progressing no matter the circumstances.

He began his speech with the story of King taking his problems to God after being told that if he didn’t leave Montgomery, Alabama, he and his family would be killed. Startled by the threats, Rhodes said that King sat at his kitchen table and prayed.

Rhodes encouraged the audience to turn to faith when the road gets tough.

“When you feel that your back is against the wall, when you feel faint and weary in your well-doing, when you see the injustices that plague our nation, when you want to throw in the towel, take your cares and concerns to the Lord and leave it there,” said Rhodes. “I believe that God can give you the strength to stand. He’s able to give you what you need to keep moving forward.”

Rhodes said King's prayer was the fuel behind his mission and ability to endure hard times and continue his fight for equality for Black people.

“It was King’s experience at that kitchen table that gave him the motivation he would need for the remainder of his days. His experience with God allowed him to go through being jailed and criticized and all of the things that came with his life and leadership. We like to romanticize King now, but toward the end of his life in 1968 and 1969, he was the most unpopular Black person in America, not just among white folks, but also amongst his fellow Black people. But he kept on pressing, persevering, and marching.”

Like King, Rhodes expressed the importance of staying the course and moving forward in difficult times.

“Some of you may not want to go backward, some of you are stuck in mediocrity, and that’s not where God would have you. God wants us to keep moving forward. Be the people who are willing to do what they need to press on. Pressing on is difficult and requires work, but you have to keep moving. God didn’t intend for you to start the race and not finish the race. He intended for you to keep running, advancing, and adapting, so don’t give up.”

Alcorn President, Felecia M. Nave, said that ushering in a new semester by celebrating King’s legacy was perfect for the University.

“This is the most appropriate way to embark upon the new semester,” said Nave. “We embark upon Spring 2021 celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who inspired so many. His day is a day of service because life is all about how we serve our fellow man. We all have a role in serving.”