The Point (Banjul)

Gambia: U.S. Embassy Honours Martin Luther King's Legacy

The embassy of United States of America in Banjul on Friday hosted a reception at the Ambassador's residence in Fajara to mark Martin Luther King Day.

The event coincided with Martin Luther King's week in the USA, marking the 50th anniversary of his "I have a dream speech."

The reception attended by various government official, NGOs, youth leaders among others featured some entertainment, as well as reading of the "I have a dream speech" and talking about King's legacy.

In his remarks, the US Ambassador to The Gambia, Ambassador Edward Alford, said: "Martin Luther King exemplifies the impact that one person can have on the world. Reverend King stood for inclusion, for democracy, equal rights for all, and tonight we celebrate his legacy,"

Ambassador Alford added that diversity is a value shared by The Gambia and the United States, stressing that The Gambia is a model for the world in terms of religious diversity and tolerance.

"The Gambia's model, where religious differences are not only tolerated but celebrated, is an inspiration for the world," he said, adding that "in America like in The Gambia it is our diversity that makes our one union all the richer, all the stronger."

According to the US diplomat, fifty years ago this summer, Martin Luther King led the legendary march on Washington and proclaimed that "I have a dream."

He recalled that few days ago, President Barrack Obama was sworn in to office for his second term on Martin Luther King Day, and declared in front of over a million people in Washington a message that resonated with every American citizen and the people of the world.

While quoting President Obama, Ambassador Alford said: "We affirm the promise of our democracy. We call that what binds this nation together is not the colours of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origin of our names. What makes us exceptional, what makes us American is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago. We hold these truth to be self-confident, that all men are created equal."

Ambassador Alford saluted the celebration of the diversity that binds Banjul and Washington, and expressed hope for a future that will continue to encompass "our shared vision".

He also expressed optimism that the two nations are and will always be stronger together, learning and living together.

A video greeting message from a Martin Luther King confidant and friend of The Gambia, Jesse Jackson, was played in front of a large TV screen, in which Jackson said that "at the end of the day, we must go forward with hope and not backward by fear and division".

Charles John Njie, read the legendary, "I have a dream speech" of Martin Luther King, in front of the guests.

The ceremony also witnessed the awarding of two female students, Sonia Sarr and Mariama Kah, who emerged winners with poems in the Embassy's first annual Martin Luther King youth poetry contest.

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