Let’s Go Back to the Mountaintop, a night honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years after his assassination, commenced with “pause for both commemoration and celebration” by emcee Pastor Bill McGill of Imani Baptist Temple, of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Freedom Riders Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian and Diane Nash, both hand in hand colleagues of King, were the special guest speakers.
93-year-old Reverend Vivian’s contribution to civil rights progress included (most notably) getting punched in the face by Sheriff Jim Clarke in Selma, Alabama. Reverend Vivian recalled how his friend Dr. King “was helping us all make it over.” He remembered his grandmother in the kitchen “singing songs of people just trying to make it over.”
McGill spoke about Diane Nash’s courage to break the circle of masculinity in and for the movement, as she helped desegregate Nashville one lunch counter at a time.
Nash recalled feeling “outraged for obeying segregation rules,” while seeing people of color “sitting on curbs and in alleys eating take-out food” purchased from white-only restaurants.
Nash extolled the crowd about the principles of non-violence, replete with relatable stories told for absolute clarity. “Since violent warfare is not easy, we should not expect non-violent warfare to be easy.”
Pastor McGill orated Dr. King’s entire “Mountaintop” speech (“his own eulogy”) given the night before his death, channeling the honored reverend in spirit and intonation. (Editor’s note: It was dope.)
McGill, Vivian, and Nash stood behind the very same lecture stand used by Dr. King when he visited Fort Wayne in 1963, on loan to the event from the University of Saint Francis.