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Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy includes Bellamy quote at CU

The book, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, was quoted by Dr. King at age 23 in a letter he wrote his future wife, Coretta, where he said, "This is the Gospel I'll preach to the world." Bellamy's text that had influenced the young King spoke of a future where we'd live to see a war-less world, a fair distribution of wealth, and transcendence over discrimination between races.

By Josh Christian, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY- "History says, don't hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history can rhyme," Dr. Gerald L. Smith, Martin Luther King Jr. Center Scholar-in-Residence at University of Kentucky and pastor of Pilgrim Baptist church in Lexington, Ky., quoted from poet Seamus Heaney as he spoke at Campbellsville University's chapel service recently in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Hope out distances history," Smith said. "Hope looks to the promise of the future; history looks at the pain of the past."

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. embodied hope and history in the face of segregation," Smith said.

Smith said the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began long before he delivered his "I have a dream speech" in 1963.

Telling the story of a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to his soon-to be-wife at the time, Smith suggested he was already thinking of his advocacy for the plight of African-Americans in 1952.

Part of this letter was an apology to his girlfriend, soon-to-be wife, yet Smith explained it was the other half of the letter that was the most interesting.

"The intellectual part of the letter was about a novel, about a classless society, called "Looking Backward: 2000-1887" by Edward Bellamy, which Dr. King had apparently just completed," Smith said.

"In the letter, Dr. King wrote, 'Let us continue to work, hope, and pray that in the future we will live to see a warless world, a better distribution of wealth, and a brotherhood that transcends race or color. This is the Gospel I'll preach to the world,'" Smith said.

"At 23 years old, Dr. King was already thinking about he was going to change the world," Smith said.

Only a few years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would become the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, mounting the pulpit each Sunday to encourage those who were part of the bus boycotts.

His series of sermons during the boycotts consisted of titles as follows: "Why does God hide himself?", "Our God is Able," "How to believe a good God in the midst of evil" and after a church bombing, "It's hard to be a Christian".

"He had a purpose in life, but Dr. King also had faith that God would provide," Smith said. "We must learn to walk by faith and not by sight."

"Faith can't be learned in a classroom. We get faith by taking God at His word and acting on it," Smith said.

"Students work, hope and pray," Smith said. "Go to work and serve somebody."

Dr. Donna Hedgepath, vice president for academic affairs, also presented the "Learning to Live Together Initiative" during the service.

"In a world of where there is a growing trend of division, we are seeking to learn to live together," Hedgepath said.

"We at Campbellsville University are seeking to have mutual respect regardless of genetics and are seeking to be representatives of Christ's love here on earth," Hedgepath said.

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Hedgepath said, "I look to a day where we judge not by the color of our skin but the content of our character."

During the service, Smith was also awarded the Kente cloth, a cloth from the 12th century in Ghana, which is presented to those who have exemplified extraordinary servant leadership.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 4,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 19 master's degrees, six postgraduate areas and seven pre-professional programs. The university has off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset and Hodgenville with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville and a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is

This story was posted on 2017-02-13 09:38:54
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Dr. Gerald L. Smith awarded the CU Kente Cloth

2017-02-13 - Ransdell Chapel, Campbellsville University - Photo by Shelby Hall, student photographer.
Dr. Gerald L. Smith, center, was awarded the CU Kente Cloth, given to those who have exemplified extraordinary servant leadership, after speaking at Campbellsville University's traditional Martin Luther King chapel service. From left in the presentation are: John Chowning, executive assistant to the president for government, community and constituent relations; Dr. Donna Hedgepath, vice president for academic affairs and professor of education; Dr. Joseph L. Owens, former CU board of trustee's chair; and Dr. Michael V. Carter, president.

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