Community Columnists

KEEPING THE FAITH | The time I got a ‘B’ in math

The Rev. Lewis Macklin
The Rev. Lewis Macklin

I am sharing a flashback from 1978! My seventh-grade math teacher at Adams Junior High School sent a deficiency report to my home because my grade was a “B” and he felt my potential was an “A”!

When my grandmother opened the mail, she came to the school immediately, unannounced, wearing peeling pleather white go-go boots, a plaid poncho, gauchos, a wig which exposed her natural gray hair and had a cigarette in-hand! I might add this was in sharp contrast to my attire of a necktie, white shirt with cuff links and blue suede Stacy Adams; accessorized with an attaché case. Indeed, I was not the “average” seventh-grade student and my peers attest to this truth even today. It did not take long for the word to get around the building that there was a crazed woman looking for me.

With the teacher and administration gathered in the main office, in true Tyler Perry’s Madea-like fashion, my free-styling, rapping grandmother declares, “You eat my bread, I’m gonna beat your head!” to the approval of the assistant principal who shared, “You’re my kinda’ mother!” I knew this was not the time to correct him and say that’s my grandmother. Yet, I still could not imagine all this drama for a B grade! Needless to say, my final grade was an A-minus — not bragging, just scared to death!

I share this memory as I recently discovered that Mr. Joseph A. Sculli Jr., my former math instructor, passed away. He imparted a life lesson, especially regarding accountability and personal expectations, that I’ve never forgotten. He was short in stature but tall in integrity. I am thankful for the life lesson that even today I embrace. Hopefully, my family understands the source of my “extra-ness.” More so, I am grateful to have shared my appreciation with Mr. Sculli for the forthright challenge to never accept the minimum standards. Don’t settle for good when you can be greater. May his memory remain a blessing.

Another flashback

I was going through old files and was pleasantly reminded that the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches was once responsible for the weekly scheduling of “Reflections,” WKBN-TV’s inspirational messages delivered by area faith leaders. I was honored to participate in 1998 and these are the two sermonettes shared:

It is my renewed hope and interest that the MVAC, under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Sauline, would consider re-establishing these inspirational expressions delivered by the religious community.

Martin Luther King: Civil rights 54 years later

A Martin Luther King worship service is set for 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2022, at Price Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 920 Dryden Ave., and will be live-streamed. There will be selected readings from area youths and special music. The preacher for the service will be Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle of Cleveland, a revered theologian, preacher, pastor teacher and author. Dr. McMickle recently retired as president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, the alma mater of Dr. King.

People are requested to view online if not vaccinated. Temperatures will be checked at the door. Masks must be worn.

A Martin Luther King workshop is set for 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2022, at First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, 201 Wick Ave. The opening session will be live-streamed. There will be breakout groups discussing criminal justice, health care and youth empowerment. Dr. McMickle will be present and will examine the impact of redistricting.

We are thankful for the co-conveners Jaladah Aslam, Rev. Kenneth Simon and Penny Wells for coordinating these efforts along with the MLK Planning Committee, which meets year-round.

As we approach the national King Holiday we need to revisit the message Dr. King shared in the pursuit of the beloved community. It continues to require all hands on deck to make this a reality. King once stated: “The thing that makes me happy is that this is not a Negro struggle. God has inspired many of his white children in this struggle, and they are here with us.”

He continued to assert: “We must always make it clear that the tension in our nation is not merely tension between Black men and white men, but it is a tension between justice and injustice.”

That said, we must continue to build coalitions and foster collaborations to advance justice for all. We err if we consider the civil rights movement an agenda led and embraced by African-Americans only. Dr. King cultivated relationships that extended beyond his Baptist roots. In particular, the Jewish community responded to King’s call and made a significant difference. During many marches, Jewish protesters walked side-by-side with Blacks. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading Jewish theologian, was a friend of King’s and was photographed walking with him during the march from Selma. He presented the Judaism and World Peace award to King in 1965.

This relationship forged efforts beyond marching and protesting, such as helping to found and fund the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, the National Urban League and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Lest we forget, we must continue the fight for liberty and justice for everyone. May the visual of this rendition of The Balm in Gilead Inc.’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” inspire you to keep the dream alive. As it is written in Amos 5:24: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

A Mountaintop experience

The Youngstown Playhouse will present The Mountaintop, a fictional account about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on Earth. Named after his last speech and set in the Lorraine Hotel on April 3, 1968, the production reveals the human side of MLK Jr. The performance, directed by James Major Burns, will feature Tae Stubbs as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Tasia Ford as Camae, a cleaning matron for the hotel.

The Mountaintop, written by Katori Hall, will run the weekends of Feb. 18-20 and 25-27. The Friday and Saturday show times are 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinees will start at 2:30 p.m.. Patrons are encouraged to remain afterwards for a talkback with the actors facilitated by Thomas Fields, a communication specialist for Case Western Reserve University.

A passing thought

America paused on New Year’s Eve to honor the legacy of entertainer Betty White. Days prior, the community was chatting about her upcoming centennial birthday celebration. Passing away three weeks shy of this milestone supports my position: “Don’t wait to celebrate!” Live each day as the last because there are no do-overs. Share, show and express love to those you encounter daily and always KEEP THE FAITH!

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and eight grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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