Speakers in Milford say we need King’s spirit today


At this year’s tribute to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Milford City Hall, the Rev. Bonita Grubbs called on people to be a light in times of darkness.

She and other speakers talked about political darkness, darkness coming from Washington D.C. and parts of the country where Democracy is struggling, they said.

So Grubbs, citing the work and words of the late civil rights leader, as well as scripture, told a packed audience that they “cannot turn a blind eye to what’s going on.”

“Be a light that points the way to peace,” she said.

“Be a light that points to honesty;

“Be a light that points to integrity;

“Be a light that points to equality;

“Be a light that points to freedom;

“Be a light and let your light shine,” she called out.

Grubbs was the keynote speaker at Sunday evening’s tribute to King, sponsored each year by The Links Inc. She was joined by local officials, as well as U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

She talked about the peaceful battles King waged during his lifetime, and she talked about others that were involved in the movement for equal rights. Georgia Gilmore was a midwife, cook and restaurateur who was also a civil rights activist, founding the fundraising group known as the Club From Nowhere. Grubbs said Gilmore made and sold cakes and pies so people who were being told they had to ride on the back of a bus could buy gas for cars and drive to work.

“It was a team effort,” Grubbs called out to the crowd, and then she urged them to be part of similar efforts today.

She said people cannot fight injustice the same way King and his followers did because they were different times.

“But we can follow his example,” she said, adding that King said darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. And hate cannot battle hate, she said.

“If we want to see the darkest days in our country at this time remain dark and stay dark, then stay apart,” she said. But she urged those listening to come together, as they did Sunday evening to be inspired by the life of a leader who fought for equality.

She said people have to do more than reflect, however, which was the title of Sunday’s tribute: Reflections, A Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They have to commit themselves to action and fight complacency and inaction.

“Since we are living in these days and these times, it is important and critical to be able to take those remembrances and create new ones,” Grubbs said.

Blumenthal agreed that times are dark, saying he has “never seen Democracy in such disarray.” This year’s ceremonies to honor the life of Martin Luther King are more important than ever, Blumenthal said.

In a letter read by an aide, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro also said King’s words ring as true today as in his time.

The tribute in Milford, the 32nd annual sponsored by The Links, was accentuated by a rousing recital of King’s “I have a Dream” speech by Ranease Brown, a 14-year-old student at Hopkins School in New Haven, and performances by the Bridgeport Boys Choir and the Foran Advanced Vocal Ensemble.

The audience sang too, following Grubbs in an impromptu group song after her speech: “This little light of mine,” the crowd sang. “I'm going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”