After Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he attended many press conferences, Frederick Brewington, a civil rights attorney and community advocate, said to more than 600 people in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Wind-Watch Hotel in Hauppauge Monday.
The question he was most often asked, Mr. Brewington said, was “what now?”
“That question looms large for us now,” he said. “I say to this room, from pillar to corner: what now?”
Mr. Brewington, the keynote speaker at the First Baptist Church of Riverhead’s 27th annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast, urged audience members to fight racism and work for justice.
“It was he that made a clear difference. He said a single person can make a change, but you have to take a stance,” Mr. Brewington said, with many in the crowd passionately saying “that’s right” in response.
“Dr. King had to be clear that he stood for peace,” Mr. Brewington said. “He stood for justice. He stood for something.”
Mr. Brewington also pointed to the disproportionate number of black men in prison compared to their white counterparts and impelled the audience to find solutions.
Samuel Quauie, a math teacher at Riverhead School District, said remembering Dr. King’s legacy is important for reducing racism and solving issues of injustice against racial minorities. The event, he said, also serves to bond the community.
“It brings people of all difference races together,” he said.
Also at the event, Riverhead High School senior Kristin Peragine was presented with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Meritorious Award for her extensive community service.
Ms. Peragine, a Girl Scout, has counseled younger students on environmental sustainability and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. An active member of her church’s youth group, she has participated in a breast cancer fundraiser, Peconic Bay Medical Center’s Polar Plunge and a 30-hour fast for World Vision, a non-profit organization that fights childhood poverty.
Riverhead High School principal David Wicks, who nominated Ms. Peragine for the award, said she’s always given her time to her family, school district and community.
“She embodies what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to do with his life,” he said.