Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. brought an audience of 1,200 to their feet and Dr. Carrol Wayman won the Human Dignity Award, Friday morning at the 28th Annual YMCA of San Diego County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award Breakfast held at the Town & Country Resort Hotel.
Moss, who gave the keynote address at the sold-out event, co-pastored Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with Martin Luther King Sr. in 1971, worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and was regional director of King’s Southern Leadership Conference.
Following an introduction that noted his current position on the President’s White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Moss modestly and amusingly said, “I would say that I bring you greetings from the President - I will not exaggerate that relationship. But we do know each other; we have prayed together and will continue to do so.”
Moss encouraged attendees to remember the children and adults around our nation that were “massacred” during the Civil Rights movement. He said, “Innocent, promising, beautiful. Let us remember them in our prayers, their families in our hearts… and in our labors.”
Speaking about the youth gathered at the breakfast he said, “One of the inspiring moments of this gathering is to see these remarkable, these beautiful, these promising young people engaged in that which is good, that which is true and that which is beautiful. How could anyone ever despise, abuse, mistreat or neglect such precious gifts? These are our children and what we do for them and with them, or against them, we do to God almighty.”
Moss was able to make King’s day to day challenges and faith real for those in attendance by reading a letter King wrote from an Atlanta jail cell. King was serving a four month jail sentence of hard labor on the Georgia chain gang for allegedly violating a parole he was on for a traffic ticket he received a year prior.
Reading King’s words written to his then-pregnant wife from solitary confinement, Moss read, “This is the cross we must bare for the freedom of our people.”
Moss then read words from King’s letter that he said were “key”. He read, “I have the faith to believe that this excessive suffering that has now come into our family will in some little way help to make Atlanta a better city, Georgia a better state and America a better country. Just how I do not yet know but I have the faith to believe it will. If I am correct, then our suffering is not in vain.”
Moss said he is often asked by reporters what King would be doing if he were alive today. Commenting on this he said, “The profound question, the deeper question is not necessarily what Dr. King would be doing if he were alive today at 84 but what I am doing because I am alive.”
As a call to action and closing out his remarks, Moss asked those in attendance to open their hands, as they did this he said, “Look at your hands. The dream is in your hands.”
Following this Moss left the stage to a standing ovation from all 1,200 people in attendance.
Dr. Carrol Wayman wins the 2013 Human Dignity Award
The YMCA of San Diego County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award winner was revealed following Moss’s remarks.
This year’s winner, former San Diego State University professor, Dr. Carrol Wayman said of Moss’ address, “That was great wasn’t it?” He then joked, “I shall now establish my own church and have him as my pastor.”
Waymon, once a writer for The San Diego Monitor News, played a pivotal role during the civil rights struggle here in San Diego, helping to desegregate schools, provide equal access to housing and stage historic meetings that changed the course of the movement.
Though San Diego did not have the riots that took place around the country, people of color still faced increible discrimination in education, housing and jobs. In addition to working to combat this as the head of San Diego’s Human Relations Committee, Waymon staged several City Hall meetings that brought in many prominent figures in San Diego, to listen to the frustrations of people of color.
Waymon donated several items from those meetings, including audio recordings, to SDSU in 2008.
The winner every year is not revealed until they are presented with the award at the breakfast. Upon his receipt of the award, Wayman said, “I simply say thank you.” He said he didn’t expect it, though said when he kept being told to be on time, he “should have known something was up.”
The YMCA of San Diego County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award is given out each year to honor an individual or group who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to promoting the values defined by the life and legacy of Dr. King.
Attendees this year included 40-year San Diego radio personality Tayari Howard and California State Representative Juan Vargas.
The breakfast featured performances by the Martin Luther King Jr. Choir and the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA’s Thunder Squad Drumline team.
Sponsors of the event included Walmart, Wells Fargo, The San Diego International Airport, Hewlett Packard, The San Diego Union Tribune and 10 News.