Keynote speaker at KCK Dr. King Day celebration addresses voting rights issue

Instead of the will of the people being done, it seems like the will of a few are being done, said the keynote speaker at the Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration in Kansas City, Kansas, on Jan. 17.

Every man and woman should be able to vote, but it seems that society is trying to make it harder and harder to have that basic right to vote, said Pastor Roger Bernard, keynote speaker, and president of the Central States Conference of Seventh Day Adventist.

Bernard said trying to shorten the voting day hurts people, including minorities who sometimes hold jobs where they can’t get time off.

He cited recent events as an example of a decaying democracy, where those who scream the loudest, give the most money or filibuster the longest get the most attention, instead of the will of the people being done.

“We are living in a time when people don’t seem to care about each other,” Bernard noted.

In an out-of-control world, is there a solution, he asked in his speech.

He cited a Bible passage from Luke 18 about a persistent widow who visited a judge for justice. Although the judge didn’t fear God or care whether justice was done, the judge eventually took action because the woman kept pestering him.

That’s the attitude people should take today, Bernard said. People should wear out their knees calling on the name of the Lord, praying in the morning, evening, at night and constantly, he said.

“Unlike this unjust judge, God will not get tired of hearing his people, coming to Him pleading for relief,” he said. “God is just waiting for his people to come to him.”

The more people plead with God, with humble hearts, to help get their democracy back and help them to vote, the more God will respond, because God will know his people are serious, he said.

Pastor Bernard spoke during a pre-recorded video for the Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration this year, held remotely because of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community. The video is available for viewing at Originally, the event had been scheduled for Memorial Hall as an in-person celebration.

Mayor Tyrone Garner, the first African-American mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, issued a proclamation of Jan. 17 as Dr. Martin Luther King Day. He said Dr. King’s teachings continue to guide and inspire them to address local inequities. He encouraged residents to give back to the community in service to increase equity and opportunity for all citizens.

He quoted Dr. King as saying, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dr. Anna Stubblefield, superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools, also spoke. She quoted Dr. King’s saying, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

She called on residents to reflect on how to work together to put systems in place where children can learn, grow and thrive, and how to make cities better for children.

“Think of one small thing you can do,” she said, and practice it every day.

The video featured several musical selections led by Alicia Saunders and a choir. Selections also included Paula Saunders-Lewis Lead, “Oh How Precious,” and “You Deserve It,” with Bishop Cortez Vaughn, Evangelistic Center KCK.

During the invocation, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas prayed for all those afflicted by COVID-19, health care workers and those entrusted to their care. He said God sent his Son to forge bonds of brotherhood, toward love and peace, not hatred and bigotry.

Dr. King was a true American hero and minister of the gospel, sent as a prophet to forge a way for the nation to overcome bigotry, he said.

The Rev. Tony Carter, Salem Missionary Baptist Church, welcomed viewers to the celebration. He asked people to consider giving to the scholarship fund to a level commensurate with what God has been doing in their lives.

Dr. Clarence Small, general coordinator of the KCK Martin Luther King celebration, and chairman of the Bethel SDA of Kansas City, Kansas, said KCK was one of the first cities to recognize Dr. King’s birthday, even before the national holiday was established. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, they were not able to come together as they had originally planned this year, but their vision remains to have a celebration for 2023, with a goal to revitalize the event, he said. He said volunteers were needed to help with programming and fundraising.

An important part of the program was the announcement of scholarships for Wyandotte County students. The program’s goal was to raise $15,000 for scholarships according to the Rev. Donald Slack, 8th Street Baptist Church.

Scholarships were announced for several students at Piper, Schlagle, Sumner Academy, Harmon, Washington and Wyandotte high schools. People may contribute toward scholarships at

In addition, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree announced that five scholarships were being presented by his office to students at Wyandotte, Schlagle, Sumner Academy, Bonner Springs and Piper. (No taxpayer money was used to fund the scholarships.)

“Education is the key to stopping crime and moving KCK forward,” Dupree said.

The Rev. Robert Milan Jr., pastor of Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, presented the closing benediction.

The program had many sponsors, both institutional and individuals, with many church donors from Kansas City, Kansas.

2 thoughts on “Keynote speaker at KCK Dr. King Day celebration addresses voting rights issue”

  1. A simple voting rights bill for those that think they are oppressed or marginalized:
    1) State or Federal holiday before election day AND the day of election….i.e. not bound by job
    2) show a form of ID (driver license, ss card, EBT card, birth certificate, etc)
    3) paper ballots only
    4) get a receipt for your ballot cast
    5) mail in or absentee only for military, out of country or too sick to travel (i.e. hospitalized)

    There, fixed it for you….a solution and not complaining about a problem ad infinitum. It gets so old.

  2. R. Robinson you have expressed well the issue of who should be allowed to vote. I am in agreement. However there is an area that should be addressed in some way. Residents of nursing homes or other facilities of that kind, that are mentally capable of voting should be allowed to vote by mail . It is vital that only U.S. citizens vote if we are to remain a democracy .

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