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Dr. Bernice King opens conference

The 13th Annual Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month opened Friday night at the Claudia Crosby Theater on the campus of Troy University with nearly 500 in attendance.

Karen Carter, a member of the Troy University Board of Trustees, opened the conference by challenging he participants to be catalysts for change in their individual communities.

“Change begins with one person,” Carter said. “Let it be you.”

Dr. Jack Hawkins, Chancellor Troy University System, said the annual Leadership Conference has always attracted speakers of prominence and has done so again with an outstanding slate of speakers beginning with Dr. Bernice King, Chief Executive Officer, The King Center in Atlanta and the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

King spoke first of friendship and then leadership, saying that to be successful at both, one must be willing to put others ahead of himself or herself.

“Sometimes we hold on to positions too long and put a death nail in progress,” King said. “There is a difference between a leader and leadership. Being a leader is an individual process. Leadership is about others. The world needs leadership. Leaders of character. Leaders with integrity. Leaders who can put others first.”

King said the future of this nation, and even this world depends, not on singular leaders but on those who put others first.

“We have difficult days ahead,” she said. “To get on track means taking personal responsibility. Not looking for leaders but instead looking to leadership.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provided leadership during the time when leadership was vital to “the Movement” — to the cause of civil rights. He was dedicated to a purpose greater than himself, his daughter said. “It was not about him. It was about others.”

On the anniversary of Dr. King’s “We have a dream” speech, he was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Time recognized King as the Founding Father of the Civil Rights Movement.

But it was the subtitle that his daughter found most telling.

“My daddy was called, ‘the Architect of the 21st century,’” she said. “What was so interesting was that he didn’t live in the 21st century. But he gave us the blueprints, the plans for the 21st century. His words are timeless. He spoke to the ages.”

The African American Leadership Conference will continue today with plenary sessions from 8:15 until 11:30 a.m. The luncheon and closing address will be from noon until 1:30 p.m.

The closing speaker will be the Honorable Penny Brown Reynolds, an Emmy-nominated, multi-gifted national television personality. She presides over the internationally syndicated television show, “Family Court with Judge Penny.”

The African-American Leadership Conference is presented by Troy University and the City of Troy. Primary sponsors of the conference are Walmart, SD James Evangelistic Association and Troy Bank and Trust.