Oxford pastor inspired by childhood encounter with Dr Martin Luther King pays tribute in speech

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GOLDSBORO, NC (WTVD) — The year was 1962, and the Reverend Amatolakun Amakunde was a 15-year-old sophomore at Booker T. Washington High School, a historically African-American school in Rocky Mount. Everyone in his family seemed to know that he had a big day ahead of him, except him.

“I didn’t know why I needed those clothes,” he said. “Why is my uncle teaching me how to tie a Windsor knot? Why am I wearing a new white shirt? Why did my grandmother wash and iron my laundry? She anointed my face and hands with olive oil so they wouldn’t be ashy. .”

He was taken to the school library and suddenly in the presence of history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of commanding presence and a fearless leader of the civil rights movement. Amakunde spoke to him just an hour before he was to deliver his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in the school gymnasium.

“I went into that room and I saw Dr. Martin Luther King there. I thought he was an icon, but after 10 minutes of talking, I turned out to be an uncle and a father,” Amakunde said.

Amakunde was selected as the speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Wayne County Community College. His speech focuses on how King shaped his life as a public servant.

“King inspired me to be brave. The man had courage. He faced water hoses and a prison in Alabama. He was not afraid,” he said.

Students like Caleb Mitchell watched in awe as his speech resonated.

“It really touched me because as a kid I always thought about what happened during the civil rights movement. His presence here gave strength. It was good for me and I really enjoyed it,” Mitchell said.

Amakunde is the pastor of Timothy Darling Presbyterian Church in Oxford. In his speech, Today, Tomorrow and Forever, he honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King.

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Oxford pastor inspired by childhood encounter with Dr Martin Luther King pays tribute in speech

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