To make unity a fact of life, people have to work at it, according to Dr. Darrell Johnson, the featured speaker at this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Program and Prayer Breakfast, hosted by Lander University.
"Every person I see provides an opportunity to make a difference. It may be that smile that makes a difference. It may be that handshake. Unity in our community begins with us. It begins with you," Johnson said.
Johnson, the superintendent of Greenwood School District 50, cited several examples of "hate and violence" in the world.
"How do we begin to diminish this darkness?" he asked. "King said, 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.'" Johnson challenged those in the audience to "be that light that Dr. King spoke of."
Johnson noted that Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, who served as King's mentor, was from Greenwood County, and that his boyhood home, which was restored and moved from Epworth to Greenwood, is only two miles away. He encouraged those present to visit the site, adjacent to the old Brewer School, and "take advantage of the rich heritage that we have right here."
South Carolina Senator Floyd Nicholson, during his introduction of Johnson, noted that at one time, Johnson worked as a janitor, "but he had determination that he wanted to make a difference."
According to Nicholson, Johnson has done just that. He praised him for the "tremendous job" he has done during the 11 years he's served as superintendent.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Program and Prayer Breakfast was the first of numerous events that Lander will sponsor in connection with Black History Month. According to Vice President for Student Affairs Randy Bouknight, who also spoke during the program, seven additional events are in the works.