The urgency of effecting change in the local and greater community was the focus of Monday's Noonday service held at the Audrain County Courthouse.

The ever-changing political landscape, particularly this year, is what is causing the urgency, the Rev. Dr. Marrix Seymore said, who was the service's keynote speaker. This theme of this year's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy was "The Beloved Community — The Fierce Urgency of Now."

Students from Mexico Middle School also read speeches about King's legacy and what it means to them. The students selected to read their speeches were Emma Azdell, Madison Wheaton, Abriana Lynch and Brennon Beasley.

"There is such a thing as being too late," Seymore said, quoting King. "This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for a vigorous and positive action."

The civil rights leader signaled a sense of impatience, but also the importance of organizing, Seymore added. Black people in the country were being shortchanged with gradualisms at the time, he said.

"The destinies of blacks and whites in the United States were inextricably bound. For Dr. King, it was urgent for people to understand justice as a system with its elements linked together. Without a just world for blacks, there could be no just world for whites," Seymore said.

King asked the world to reclaim the idea of the urgency of now and that people must build on what others have done also to be the foundation for future generations, he said.

"I stand here because I stand on the shoulders of someone who came here before me. It is my duty to stand here to allow someone to stand on my shoulders," Seymore said.

He urged the audience to do more than the bare minimum, like post to social media that they attended the Noonday service, he said.

"[We are] on the cusp of an election that will decide the fate of poor and working class communities across the country no matter what color, race or creed," Seymore said.

There is declining trust in the institutions created to protect citizens and it is causing a rift at every level of government, he said. Citizens must say to their elected officials that they are watching how they serve the people, Seymore said.

"Each one of us must be vigilant at a time when zealots are using violence and intimidation to deny constitutional rights to speech, assembly and equal rights under the law. We must be vigilant against those who would attack where we find our sense of peace," he said.

There also were remarks given by those representing the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce, the Mexico School District and the County Commission. Mexico Mayor Ayanna Shivers read a proclamation recognizing King's legacy and said that the actions and encouragement he gave to cause change in a community should not just be part of a one-day celebration, but a yearlong push by citizens to improve their community.

cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com