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‘None of us is bigger than all of us’: City mayor pays homage to MLK Jr.

In a country where divisions have been exacerbated by a pandemic, Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter recently shared that he feels that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity “resonates now as much as ever.”

“I’m still reminded of his quote that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,'” Slaughter said. “None of us is bigger than all of us.”

“Another key component of Dr. King’s message was love and the “Beloved Community” and service to others. I think that’s what we have to realize,” he continued. “One of the key ways that we can affect positive change is just to care about your neighbor, care about your community. Go out and serve. Do something. We all have that power to step out into our community and serve in whatever capacity that might be.”

During this week, set aside as Dream Week, where people are encouraged to focus on service to others to honor King’s life, Slaughter urged people to not just honor his message and his life’s work for just this one week, but to focus on what he advocated every day.

“We have to be reminded of that mission every day. And, hopefully each day we do something to make our community just a little bit better in the same light that Dr. King was working,” he said.

During the past year as the world struggled during a pandemic, Slaughter said that he saw people in this community “step up in extraordinary ways.”

“It gave me hope. It gave our community hope,” he shared.

“You saw non-profits step up and business leaders step up and business owners step up and individuals step up. It was really just incredible and it was nothing short of heroic,” he said.

He compared the community’s response during the difficult times of the pandemic to the vision King had for his “Beloved Community,” a society which is based on justice and equal opportunity, exhibiting a love for each other.

“That is the steps toward a beloved community–helping each other out. Is serving each other, loving each other, caring about each other. If you have the means to do so, whether that’s your time, whether that’s your money, whether that’s whatever resource it might be,” he stated.

“I know we saw that last year and we continue to see that into 2021,” he added.

Although he admitted that there will always be some type of division, Slaughter, who has been the city’s mayor for one year, said that his hope is that “we continue to work towards a more unified country.”

“I think that starts right where you are. It starts right in your community,” he said.

“I have a lot of hope for Williamsport. I always did, I always will, because I see it day in and day out, what our community members are doing. It’s incredible. That does speak to Dr. King’s mission. Especially in light of everything that’s going on to see folks continue to step up, put their differences aside and really just work to make our community better,” he shared.

Slaughter admitted that there is a lot of work to do, some healing that needs to take place and progress that needs to be made.

“The job is probably never done. It’s not like we’re going to wake up one day and say our work here is finished. I don’t think it’s every finished. You can always improve. You can always get better as a person, as a community, as a country,” Slaughter said.

“All we can do is strive to continue to make those improvements to form that more perfect union. That what the goal always has been and that’s what the goal always will be,” he said.

Special events for Dream Week conclude with a virtual talk by April Reign, the creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which seeks racial equality in the entertainment industry. Information to sign on to this ZOOM event, which begins at 7 p.m., is on the STEP AmeriCorps website.

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