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Change Makers: Look back, act forward – MLK Commission

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(WBNG) - February is Black History Month and each week 12 News will bring you a story about people from our community who have and continue to make a difference.

This week we spoke with Rev. Arthur Jones Jr. and his wife Delores. Jones has been the head of the Broome County Martin Luther King Jr. Commission for nearly 20 years and he said King's legacy is very much alive today.

For Jones, Black History Month is not only about looking back at the figures we know, but making new discoveries.

"It's almost like taking a trip to the museum and you see so much in the pictures and paintings who did what and stuff like that and its an eye opener of things that you never knew, it can blow your mind," said Rev. Jones.

But it can also be a time to really look at the legacies of those heroes cast in bronze.

The statue of King stands on Binghamton's River Walk at the head of the Peacemakers Trail.

"When he did a lot of things they said he was fearless and he was confident and he was totally selfless and totally devoted to the cause that was upon his life," said Jones. "His cause is still here today it seems like we've come full circle."

The MLK Commission does a number of different things in the community. One they are most proud of is offering scholarships to young people. Delores Jones said supporting the next generation is vital to see change.

"I think that younger people are intolerant of a notion that's not supported by truth," said Delores, "We have to be truthful about our past and that means everyone earns a place at the table for what they've done and what they've accomplished and to be proud about who they are and what they are."

For many years the commission has organized a March on MLK Day from the statue to their church. While COVID-19 had to change their event this year to a virtual one, they said the spirit of King is more alive than ever.

"When you see the people who paved the way for you to be where you are, they were the first ones who had to deal with rejection and discrimination. They paved the way by making it better. You have to make it better for other people, too," said Rev. Jones.

"We have to raise up a generation that is willing to take on the helm of this movement, " said Delores, "It cannot be divisive, it can't be exclusive, it has to be one that includes everybody who has something to offer and we all know that we all have something to offer."

They are hoping to hold an event with a march this Spring, specifically in April when King was assassinated.

Kaitlin Pearson

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