In his upcoming visit to Harrisburg, a leading civil rights advocate is expected to urge reconciliation in the wake of the arrest of a prominent religious leader in the black community who has been criminally charged in the collapse of his empty church.
The Rev. Hilton O. Smith on Friday will address the Rev. Martin Luther King Foot Soldiers Dinner, honoring individuals from the community who have continued to advocate not only for civil equity, but in particular, economic justice.
Smith, a senior vice president for Corporate and Community Affairs at Turner Construction Company in Cleveland, Oh., is also expected to speak about reconciliation in the Bishop A.E. Sullivan, Jr. case.
OnFeb. 21, anabandoned church at 12th and Magnolia streets andowned by Sullivan fell into the street and onto two next door properties, displacing families.
Reginald Guy, Jr., cofounder of the MLK Leadership Development Institute in Harrisburg, said the most powerful voice within the minority community has been placed in the criminal system when a phone call and a meeting would have resolved the matter.
Guy said he expects Smith to inspire people of goodwill to work for something beneficial for the entire community.
Ultimately, the best way to deal with an enemy is to make it a friend, Guy said. The truth is going to be the truth tomorrow if it s the truth today.
Smithis nationally regarded in the business sector for leading efforts that have resulted in the awarding of more than billion dollars to thousands of minority and woman business enterprises.
Hilton Smith is to minority economics development what Ben Carson is to brain surgery, Guy said.
At 65, an age in which he could be retiring, Guy said, Smith continues to dedicate his time and energy to ensure minority communities and business ventures receive equal and fair opportunities in the marketplace.
His being here is an illuminating opportunity for our community, Guy said. We can hear from somebody who has been there, done that and has affected change. But change cannot come to a community that does not want it.
Guy said Smith s appearance will underscore the idea that Harrisburg s minority business community has largely been excluded from major ventures since the City Island project.
Every opportunity that has been extended to minority owned firms have come as a result of some form of strife, Guy said. Our hope is that our community will return to that community.
Proceeds from the event benefit families displaced by the collapse of Sullivan's church.Bishop A.E. Sullivan Jr., president of the Interdenominational Ministers Conference of Greater Harrisburg.Joe Hermitt | PennLive.comIf you go: The MLK Foot Soldier, 6 p.m. Friday, April 3
Kew House 2020 State Street, Harrisburg. Admission:
The public is invited.
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