Founder’s Message

Written by Dr. Owen Cardwell
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On September 29, 1962, I walked up the steps of E. C. Glass High School along with Lynda Woodruff – the first two black students to desegregate the school system in Lynchburg, Virginia. In March of that same year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Lynchburg in support of our local civil rights efforts. He had been invited by a young pastor, Dr. Virgil Wood, who was to later serve on the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Part of the irony was that the auditorium at E. C. Glass was available to the public. Dr. King, by right, spoke in the public auditorium at the school that we had to win a court order to attend.

 

Dr. King stayed at the home of a local dentist because we had no hotels in Lynchburg that catered to African Americans. After the rally, we went to the house where King was to stay and sat in the floor and sang freedom songs. I’m certain that other things went on that night – conversations, strategy sessions, and just shooting the breeze, but the memory of a fourteen year old boy latched onto the intimacy of sitting in the floor, singing freedom songs. The next year, my father took me to the March on Washington where King gave the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. My father went on to become president of the local branch of the NAACP. Needless to say, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a profound effect on my life and on the lives of my father and Dr. Wood, who became my spiritual father.

Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of children to their fathers takes on a special meaning for me. Having men like Dr. King speak into my life and men like my father and Dr. Wood providing me guidance has made me the man that I am today. I don’t know where I might have ended up if I had not had such significant male presence. Their involvement in my life underscores what the Malachi passage says – turning the hearts of fathers to the children. These men who had a father’s heart were concerned not only about their own children but all children – the children.

This legacy has been passed on now to the Family Restoration Network. Projecting passion onto historical figures is presumptive at best, however, I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would be speaking to the fathers of this nations in the prophetic tones of Malachi.

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