Detroit NAACP president on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and current racial tensions

From the archives: Photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and his lasting impact
Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 20:25:27-05

(WXYZ) — Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP, is on Monday's 7 UpFront segment to discuss the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the current state of racial tensions across America.

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"When I think of him I think of not just the dream but the plan," Rev. Anthony said. "See, as long as you leave Dr. King on a mountain top dreaming, you can't get to the work that he did when he was planning down in the valley."

Rev. Anthony added that the "I Have a Dream" speech came when Dr. King was wrestling with two concepts: One concept was collecting on a bad check marked "insufficient funds" from the bank of justice. While the other part of the speech was the actual dream.

Photos: Martin Luther King Jr. at Detroit's Freedom March in 1963

"He talked about ending police brutality. He talked about poverty. He talked about bringing people together," Rev. Anthony said.

With heightened racial tensions across the country, Rev. Anthony talked about the unity desired in the nation, but that without accountability America will continue to be void of unity.

"We all want unity; we need unity," Rev. Anthony said. "But unity without accountability is irresponsibility and I think that's where we are."

America has shown signs of moving in a more progressive direction with the election of the first Black and Indian-American, woman vice president, along with the historic runoff election in Georgia.

Rev. Raphael Warnock became the state's first Black Senator. Also, the election of Jon Ossoff in Georgia to the U.S. Senate. Ossof, a Jewish man who has long fought for social justice. Still, Rev. Anthony says although this shows true diversity while also showing the possibility of America, there's more work to do. He said Dr. King would be proud of recent political events, but also say that he would agree that much more needs to be done.

"But I'm encouraged, I'm not discouraged," Rev. Anthony said.

He said despite the naysayers, the unity shown between all races, especially during recent demonstrations such as the Black Lives Matters protests last year, it gives him inspiration.