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Living the eternal dream

KEYPORT — Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a nation where his four children “would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

King’s eternal dream of equality for all men and women may be in the near future, but society still has a way to go, said Rosalund Jenkins.

Jenkins, executive director of the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, traveled from her Olympia office to speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration service Wednesday in Keyport’s Naval Undersea Museum auditorium.

“(Jenkins) is a woman who lives the eternal dream,” said Capt. Jonathan Dowell, commander of Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport.

Jenkins told the crowd the nation has made leaps and bounds toward achieving equality for all human beings, but still has further to go.

“One of the things the dream is to me is about the end of race, end of bias,” she said. “We live in a caste society where we’re not viewed equally.”

Jenkins cited various studies, one of which was conducted by professors and students at Duke University in Durham, N.C. The study showed doctors treat Caucasian and African-American patients with the same symptoms differently.

“They did treat patients differently. They prescribed drugs and medicine differently, our best and brightest,” Jenkins said.

She praised King for his work to end racism and said he helped move things in the right direction, but it is now up to today’s society to keep pushing forward in the fight for equality.

“Good is always happening, progress is always being made. Our desire, our earnest, our dream is true,” she said. “I have a great faith in my own people. The dream will be realized.”

It’s been nearly 40 years since King’s death, but Jenkins predicted it would take many more years to truly achieve equality for all.

“By the year 2050, we will enter a time where there will be no definite line of race,” she said. “This not only marks the passage of time but the distance we have yet to go.”

Wednesday’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration also included local Keyport employees showing off their talents. Crystal McGruder did a praise dance by interpreting a song through dance and Sherelonn Tweit led the crowd in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem. Tony Murkins paid tribute to fallen heroes with a stirring photo presentation of the nation’s fallen military figures and Navy Band Northwest provided music throughout the program.

The commemoration service was in tribute to Keyport employee John Hudson. Hudson serves as manager of the Black Employment Program at Keyport and helped organize the event. He is also involved with many service organizations in Kitsap County.

Jenkins thought the recent victories in Iowa and New Hampshire for presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton must have been a dream, she told the crowd, because 10 years ago this country would not have elected an African-American man or Caucasian woman to the country’s most prominent role.

“The people of Iowa and New Hampshire have done us proud. Even if no historical firsts are made, a turn in the road has been made,” Jenkins said. “This is what he (King) drove for, strived for, died for and we better not forget it.”

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