HOUSTON – Years before 1983, when President Ronald Reagan first signed into law, the third Monday of January in each year would be observed and declared as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; one powerful leader saw fit to honor the man that went down in history as the chief spokesman for the Civil Right movement. Though this declaration was made in 1983, it was not observed until 1986. Even more so, it was not observed in all of the states of the United States until the year 2000. Nevertheless, Rev. Floyd Nathaniel Williams made a conscientious decision after going to Washington D.C. that whether Dr. King was given a day or not, he would do something to show people that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was more than just a voice to be heard. He was a man that left a legacy that generations and generations to come would always hear about.
Rev. Floyd Nathaniel Williams, known by many as “F.N. Williams” comes from a family of spiritual and community involvement and advocacy leaders. His father is the late Pastor M.C.Williams who left quite a legacy in Houston and the Acres Home community. So it is no wonder that his son, would also make remarkable footprints consistent with that of a mighty soldier. Williams after the passing of his father, succeeded as pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, where he still serves today. Having fought for many privileges for residents within his community throughout the years; he built a reputation of being a mighty strong arm to confront and a force to be reckoned with. As such he initiated the very first Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration in 1971 at the Antioch MBC. He opted to host such an event because he came to the conclusion that he, “didn’t need the government to mandate an appointed time to celebrate his history and culture.”
During the first year of Pastor Williams hosting the event he was not welcomed by the large gallery of ministers and pastors that one would expect. As a matter of fact, some of the ministers during that era spoke ill-will of his intentions and desire to recognize Dr. King’s legacy. However diligent and supportive ministers and pastors such as: Pastor William “Bill” Lawson, Pastor Deleon Everett, Dr. A.W. Bill, Pastor A.A. McCardell, Pastor B.J. Lewis, Pastor S.B. Parker, Pastor Andy Young and Pastor J.T. Holcombe, did not leave Williams standing on the battlefield alone. Instead, they joined forces and assisted him with promoting and helping to ensure that the celebration was a success. His desire to sponsor this memorable tribute did not sit well with everyone. As a matter of fact, the KKK taunted the efforts of the event. But that did not serve as a stumbling block for Pastor Williams.
As it is, Pastor Williams did not waiver in his belief and support for the vision of Dr. King. His faithfulness to the Civil Rights Movement did not just start after the assassination of Dr. King. He was a fervent supporter of the marches that he led while Dr. King was living. In fact, he was amongst one of the key players that was very instrumental in bringing Dr. King to Houston. Upon which he received a great deal of opposition from local religious officials regarding his decision to do so. Pastor Williams also sat only three seats away from Dr. King as he delivered his infamous last speech, I have been to the Mountaintop.
Since the inception of the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., birthday celebration, Pastor Williams has remained dedicated to hosting this event yearly. He has held 43 consecutive celebrations in Dr. King’s honor. During an interview Pastor Williams gave his thoughts on the consistent need to have celebrations such as these.
Pastor F.N. Williams on 43rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration:
This year’s caption for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration is, “It’s Still Alive”. It was labeled this because Dr. King’s dream has not been fulfilled, which is evident by the fact that there is still a need for justice. We are living in a society whereas, young Black men are singled out and dying monthly by the hands of law enforcement authorities without ever going to trial. They are being set free by grand juries that aren’t friendly towards us. People that are under the mainstream of common living, never realize what happens with the people under duress and stress.
Why are these kids acting like this? Nobody addresses the problem. I think that it’s so warped that every time something happens they say “Education”. Education is not the answer. Economics, jobs, businesses in our minority communities, teaching them self-respect – where the system has methodically set the disruption of the family by sending most of the young Black men that are available for parenting behind bars. When a little less than an ounce of cocaine can give a man 20 – 25 years; when all he had was a little package, less than the size of a packaged sugar – something is wrong. He’s lost his job, identity and never gets the chance to be apart of mainstream society. So Dr. King’s dream, is still a dream and it has not even dented fulfillment because just look around. How many businesses thrive in Black communities? Now, I certainly do not want to seem racist or like a bigot. But how is that other minorities can come in this country and be supported by the government and Black people who built this country has to struggle for mere survival and plead for a degree of justice? Something is wrong! So what we need is an overhauling of the system and the judicial system certainly needs overhauling. When you study history, notice the founding fathers never intended for the children of slaves to evolve to a degree of equality.
We cannot in our own community add a room to our house without blueprints and permits. But foreigners, on the other hand can come in and build anything that they want to build. If one Black family stay just one too many in a house they want to charge them, but they come in and live four and five families and nothing is ever said or done. So we are hoping that the consciousnesses of our legislators and congress people are touched by the reality of what’s happening today to change our judicial system and not allow grand juries to be picked as they are now. The system needs changing. We feel that there need to be on the part of our representatives and legislators, to look into the freedom that policemen have. They need to redesign and redefine their authority. Cameras are good, but cameras will not keep that kind of race baiting and things from happening the way that it has.
The prison system is really the rich man’s farm for detention and how he can handle the workforce and welfare. Most of the people that’s there in charge of the prison system are not Thomas Jones and Fred Thomas who comes from our community, it’s Africans and people from the islands who do not necessarily like American Blacks. So instead of prison being a place of reform, it’s being a place that raises the level of hatred and disrespect for government and destruction of the family. So instead of recycling the fathers they are now recycling families. So that’s why we keep on having this day for Dr. King hoping that his legacy will not die with us. So we appreciate the fact that State Representative Sylvester Turner and Rev. H. Stanley and the Houston Baptist Pastors Ministers Fellowship have joined with us in this effort and we are expecting great things.
On January 19, Pastor F.N. Williams, Sr. and the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the Houston Baptist Pastors and Ministers Fellowship (Rev. H. Stanley, President) and State Representative Sylvester Turner will be hosting the 43rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration at Antioch MBC located at 5902 Beall at Mansfield St., 77091. The theme will be, “It’s Still Alive”. The Youth Program Spotlight will begin at 10:30am and the Mass Meeting will be 6:00pm, Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson will be the Guest Speaker of the evening and special musical performances will be rendered by “For the Lord”.