On a frigid Martin Luther King Day, Rev. Derek Terry heated up the crowd at Music Hall by criticizing U.S. colonization, saying America was never great and calling for blacks, gays, and transgender people to be treated equally.
It didn't take long for the MLK Coalition keynote speaker to hone in on this year's theme: 400 years of Enslavement: It Stops With Us.
"If this country was ever great at any time in history, it was great for the white men and the socioeconomic and political power who were great at devastating this country's oppressed people." Terry called the English invaders and occupiers when they landed in Jamestown with twenty slaves.
He says, 400 years ago they (Africans and indigenous people) were the strangers, the undocumented and survived by wearing masks.
Terry told the crowd discrimination, be it housing, employment or health, "stops with us." He says, "We are allowed to be free and brave in our community."
Changes in education is part of the solution said Terry, and so is action in the form of voting, volunteerism, and writing letters to change laws.
Terry's message hit home with Sharon McCreary. "I thought it was very inspirational and right on target."
Da'Mon Butler came to Music Hall Monday remembering "the struggles we are still having." But he is optimistic things will change. "God wouldn't bring us this far to leave us now."
Michael Ganson has been bringing his three sons to the MLK celebration for decades. One of the sons, 34 year old Adam says, "You can definitely feel the warmth of people and that definitely overcomes the cold of the winter day."