Rev. Dr. James Forbes shares stories of segregation, dream of equality

Lawton_The nation celebrated one of the greatest champions for civil rights in US history on Monday.  The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 79 this year if his life hadn't been short by an assassin's bullet in 1968 - 40 years ago this year.

Cameron Campus Ministry and Cameron University celebrated his life and accomplishments with Rev. Dr. James Forbes, a nationally acclaimed minister who experienced the pain of segregation, but persevered to live out Dr. King's dream of equality for everyone.

7News met with Dr. Forbes who traveled all the way from New York to make sure everyone knows Dr. King's dream hasn't fully been realized.  He says we still have work to do to ensure people will "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with a vision - racial equality.  He chased that dream so passionately it earned him the Nobel Prize for Peace, and even after he was assassinated for that dream forty years ago, it lives on today.

Newsweek calls the Rev. Dr. James Forbes one of the nation's most effective preachers and community activists, and he shared his life experiences at Cameron University.  "Race can no longer be relied upon to guarantee that the values we hold will be served, and so I think we've come to the realization that you can't tell a book by looking at it's cover," he said.

He told of a time when Dr. King's dream of equality was just beginning to take root in his life.  It was in 1961 at a previously segregated lunch counter.  "When I sat down for the first time, a white woman who was sitting next to where I was sitting immediately got up and ran out of the store," Forbes said.  "It was a very painful moment for me..." 

Forbes says our country still has quite a way to go in the fight for racial equality.  "We know that there is still not full justice - we've not achieved the beloved community that he talked about - the dream has not been fully realized," he says.  He says this day, memorializing the work of Dr. King, is a good day to reflect on that.  "The King holiday is a very important time because it's gives us a chance to think, 'How far have we come?  Are we satisfied where we've come?'"

Forbes says he thinks back on that day at the lunch counter and says it still stings.  "So horrible was that moment, I too should have run away, for prejudice has the odor of a dying beast, where the rapist or racist both fall in the savage class.  And the greatest theft of to rob one's right to be."

Monday was Cameron Campus Ministry's 24th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration - one of the oldest in the state.  Cameron Campus Ministry and Cameron University are also hosting a banquet Monday evening to honor Dr. King where this year's Humanitarian Awards will be announced.