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Rev. Middlebrook advises FIS students


The Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook shakes hands with retired FIS teacher Cathy Rush, as the Rev. Dustin Wellons, right, and FIS fifth-grade student Ricky Culotta (white shirt) enjoy the moment.- Alan Sloan/farragutpress
Recalling how he was beaten with a hose in Selma, Ala., as a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a 1965 civil rights march — jailed 39 times for protests including sit-ins — the Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook was more than qualified to speak about “not running away” from problems.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 16), Middlebrook gave his annual address to Farragut Intermediate School students, teachers, administrators and parents in FIS gym Thursday morning, Jan. 12.

“All of us know there are some situations in life that we can’t get away from,” said Middlebrook, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in East Knoxville, during a roughly 15-minute address. “An important thing in life is not to try to run away from what happened, but to get our minds ready to be able to deal with what happened.


“It is important for all of us to know that we possess within ourselves the ability to be somebody,” Middlebrook added. “In fact, everyone of us is somebody.”

Tailoring his speech to resonate both to the children and to dozens of parents seated behind them in the FIS gym, Middlebrook said, “You are here at Farragut, and you have the opportunity to prepare yourself to get your mind ready.”

Other speech highlights included Middlebrook pointing to the wall behind him and asking the children, “The slogan says? …”

“Character Counts,” the children shouted, as painted on the wall.

“Character is not who you are when the teacher is around, character is who you are when there’s nobody there but you,” Middlebrook added. “Your character is important because it helps you to grow to become the person you can become.

“It means that when you’re supposed to be studying, your science, your math, and your parents don’t happen to be in the same room with you, you don’t try to cheat your way through.

“You go ahead and do what? Study. Did everybody hear that?”

The children responded, “yes” and “study.”

Although saying he was greatly influenced by his relationship with King — Middlebrook said King’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., bailed out him and King Jr. out of jail in October 1960 following arrest for a sit-in at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, Ga. — the East Knoxville pastor first pointed to his Christian upbringing.

“I grew up in the Black Baptist Church in Memphis,” Middlebrook said after the speech. “The pastors preached that if we trust in God, that God would take care of us.

“And that God was going to equip us to face the battle, and that like Jesus, we would stand out of love and be able to endure what we went through.”

 

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