ANDERSON — Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God’s children.”

Brian “B” Martin, director of the Cultural Resource Center at Anderson University and keynote speaker for the 42nd annual citywide MLK Day celebration Monday at the Paramount Theatre, expounded on King’s comment.

To make justice a reality today, Martin said, we must “make it personal.”

“Diversity doesn’t divide us, it divines us,” Martin said, emphasizing the program’s theme: “Actualizing a dream — where diversity divines us.”

He compared humans to flowers, noting that more than 400,000 types of flowers exist.

“All colors, shapes and sizes. They’re all diverse, and yet when those flowers are put into the hands of a master florist, they can make something even more beautiful,” Martin said.

He noted that the same goes for people, with God as our master florist.

“God has taken these groups of people and arranged them in such a way into something that’s beautiful, that all the shapes and sizes and colors can work together,” Martin said.

The residents of Anderson are not here by chance, they are here because God put them here, Martin said.

To achieve King’s dream of making justice a reality to all of God’s children, Martin uses the acronym R.E.A.L.

The first step is to respect those who are different than you.

“I value you, not because of what you can do for me, but because of how God has created you,” Martin told the crowd of about 200 people. “I begin to see you as someone that is a special creation from God.”

The “E” in R.E.A.L. stands for engaging with those who are different than you.

“Not just value them, but actually engaging with them,” Martin said. “When I begin to do this, in a personal way, I begin to see this dream become a reality.”

The “A” is for acceptance.

“That means to really bring those people into my family, into my circle, into my influence, into my arms so I can begin to get to know them even more,” Martin explained.

After we accept those who are different than us, we will better understand how God made them to help us.

Lastly, the “L”: You must love those who are different than you, Martin said.

“God loved that person just as much as he loves me,” he said. “I’m not any (more) important than them. … Therefore, I’m going to love them.”

Martin said that if all these steps are followed, positive change will start happening.

“We’ll see a change in our city, we’ll see a change in our county, our state and our whole world,” he said.

While Martin agrees that policies addressing inequality are needed, he focuses on relational engagement.

“It’s easy to focus on the policies that need to be changed but not be real to my neighbor and to my coworker,” he noted.

After Martin’s keynote speech, Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick announced that Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery, will now be recognized as an annual day of observation in the city of Anderson.

Juneteenth will be observed June 19, unless that date falls on a weekend.

“I call upon all Anderson citizens and businesses to acknowledge and celebrate this historical event as one step in the long and ongoing efforts to eliminate discrimination and our continued mutual efforts to ensure equality for all,” Broderick told the MLK Day crowd.

Follow Kylee Mullikin on Twitter @kyleemullikinhb or call 765-640-4250.

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