Oxford pastor inspired by boyhood meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, honors him in speech

Akilah Davis Image
Friday, January 13, 2023
Local pastor inspired by boyhood meeting with MLK honors him in speech
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The Rev. Omotolokun Omokunde, the speaker of the Wayne County Community College annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, and now a pastor in Oxford was enthralled after meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

GOLDSBORO, N.C (WTVD) -- The year was 1962 and the Rev. Omotolokun Omokunde was a 15-year-old sophomore student at Booker T. Washington High School, a historically African American school in Rocky Mount. It seemed everyone in his family knew he had a big day ahead but him.

"I didn't know why I was getting these clothes," he said. "Why is my uncle teaching me how to tie a Windsor knot? Why am I putting on a new white shirt? Why did my grandma wash and iron my underwear? She put olive oil on my face and hands so they wouldn't be ashy."

He was ushered into the school library and suddenly in the presence of history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with a captivating presence and a fearless leader of the civil rights movement. Omokunde spoke with him just one hour before he was set to deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech in the school gymnasium.

"I walked in that room and saw Dr. Martin Luther King there. I thought he was an icon, but after 10 minutes of talking, he was an uncle and father," said Omokunde.

Omokunde was selected as speaker of the Wayne Community College annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. His speech centers around how King shaped his life as a public servant.

"King inspired me to have guts. The man had guts. He stood up to water hoses and jail in Alabama. He wasn't afraid," he said.

Students such as Caleb Mitchell watched in awe as the speech resonated with him.

"It really touched me because as a boy, I always thought about things that went on during the civil rights movement. Having him here was empowering. It was good to me, and I really enjoyed it," said Mitchell.

Omokunde is the pastor of Timothy Darling Presbyterian Church in Oxford. His speech offered reverence to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, tomorrow and forever.