From one side of town to the other, hundreds of people remembered Dr. Martin Luther King for the message he brought to the nation in the name of racial healing.
At the DoubleTree Hotel, hundreds of members of the Merrimack Valley NAACP gathered for an breakfast event, the theme of which was reflection, as community members and religious leaders came together to ask, "where do we go from here?"
Rev. Wayne S. Daley, of the Charles Street A.M.E church and Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Boston, offered an answer through a King quotation to open his keynote speech.
"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
Daley referenced the story of the prophet Micah, who warned the Israelites against oppression and corruption. He never spoke of President-elect Donald Trump by name, but took on the role of Micah to beseech today's society to speak out against mass incarcerations, income inequality, and corrupt rulers who "avoid paying their taxes."
As Americans celebrate the legacy of King, civil rights leaders and activists are trying to reconcile the transition from the nation's first black president to a president-elect still struggling to connect with non-white voters.
Joseph Devoe, president of the Merrimack Valley NAACP, said to the roughly 200 people gathered at the DoubleTree hotel in Andover, times ahead may be hard, but strength can be found in numbers.
At the Baptist Church on Central Street, the Rev. Dr. Emmett Price, III, spoke about unity and diversity.
“We don’t have to agree on everything," he told parishioners and others gathered for the 10th annual event. "We don’t have to understand everything. But I’ll tell you what: the more I get to know you, the more I love you.” By contrast, he added, “the less we get to know one another, the more it can super-inflate those things that are divisive.” If we take the time and make the effort, Price said, "Our diversity can be a blessing again.”