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Atlanta Man Fulfills Life Goal by Speaking MLK's Words at DC Memorial

Image: Atlanta Man Fulfills Life Goal by Speaking MLK's Words at DC Memorial
Rashiid Shareef sounds the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the memorial in Washington, D.C. (Breana Noble/YouTube;Thumbnail Dollar Photo Club)

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Jul 2015 08:54 AM

Rashiid Shareef, a 70-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, always dreamed of visiting Washington, D.C., and walking the hallowed land over which Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words “I have a dream” echoed in 1963.

He fulfilled that goal on Friday.

As the founder and president of the Atlanta Sub 40 Running Club from 1984 to 1993, Shareef ran in the annual Selma to Atlanta relay along with approximately 25 others. One person at a time, the members ran the 315-mile distance with the spirit of the race’s motto, “Truth set in motion never stops,” moving them onward.

“The baton that we carried, we called it the baton of nonviolence, and that baton, once it went into motion, when the first runner, who began the motion with that baton at 12 o’clock noon at Edmund Pettus Bridge, that baton did not stop one single time from Selma until we placed it on top of Dr. King’s tomb in Atlanta,” Shareef told Newsmax.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the starting place of the famous Selma to Montgomery march that King led in 1965 in Alabama. Racers also ran through Montgomery and Birmingham, two cities also significant to the civil rights movement.

Each year, the race began on Jan. 13 and ended on Jan. 15, the birthday of the famed leader.

“During the entire running of this event, we had Dr. King’s sermons running on the loud speaker from the vehicle, and so, we ran this for 10 successive years,” Shareef said. “It was to my surprise in 1986 when I found out that I knew Dr. King’s sermons. I know every one of Dr. King’s sermons verbatim.”

Since then, it has become Shareef’s goal to share the words of King. With the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in 2011, Shareef knew he had to come to Washington, D.C., and share one of the leader's messages there.

So on Friday and Monday, that's what he did.

“I’ve never been to D.C. before. Especially since this statue was erected here, I’ve always wanted to come here and do that,” Shareef said on his second visit to the memorial. “For whatever reason, God Almighty blessed me and gave me the opportunity to do this, and I do it again with great honor and great pride.”

Shareef’s first visit to the memorial was emotional.

“When I first walked through the entrance, and I saw, ‘From a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope,’ it brought tears to my eyes. It truly brought tears to my eyes,” he said.

Accompanied by his wife Sherrie, Shareef made her feel proud, she said.

“My memory is not that good. I mean, he’s got this all in his memory bank. I don’t know how he does it. I’ve never been able to memorize anything, but he enjoys it,” she told Newsmax. “This is a passion of his.”

Marshall F. Roseboro was visiting the memorial and watched as Shareef quoted King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon.

“It was just the greatest thing I’ve ever seen,” Roseboro said. “It was like listening to Dr. King actually.”

It was not the first time Shareef has spoken publicly. In fact, he is a former member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commissioned Speakers Bureau, in which he traveled across the country and spoke King’s words.

The D.C. memorial features 16 quotes from King’s many orations, and Shareef raved about the importance of these words.

“Yesterday is truth tomorrow and truth eternal,” Shareef said. “And Dr. King, the words that Dr. King speaks, and spoke, and everything is as though Dr. King had the opportunity to look far off into the future.”

Even with the recent uproar over race relations following several deadly encounters between African Americans and police over the past year, Shareef was positive about today’s world.

“This is the most friendly environment I’ve known in my entire life. People — all colors, all religions — you know, people come together,” he said. “I stand, and I look at Dr. King, and he spoke of one day, the sons of former slaves will sit down at the table of brotherhood with former slave owners.”

“I just see, I just feel it. I look at the changes that have been wrought in my life to right now. It’s great. At the time that Dr. King was out there, you and I standing like this in certain parts of the country would be a death offense.”

As proof, Shareef shared the story of how at the funeral of his father-in-law last August, they had two Caucasian police officers on motorcycles escort them.

“I imagined what he must have been thinking because where he is now, he could see,” Shareef said. “I imagine what he must have said, ‘Wow, I never would have thought I would live to see the day when two white police officers could put their life on the line.’ And I’m serious . . . It wasn’t just a job. They did it as a duty, as an obligation.”

As for Shareef’s duty, he feels he has been called to spread the messages King first proclaimed 50 years ago.

“It chokes me [up],” Shareef said as tears fell down his cheek. “I just feel that God blessed me to do this. To pass this word on as often and wherever I can, and I do.”



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Rashiid Shareef, a 70-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, always dreamed of visiting Washington, D.C., and walking the hallowed land over which Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words “I have a dream” echoed in 1963. He fulfilled that goal on Friday.
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