On Wednesday, Asbury Methodist Village resident and founder of the Gaithersburg Beloved Community initiative, the Rev. Hal Garman, 77, will share a legacy of activism for racial and social justice with a new generation as he guides a group of students and sponsors to the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.
Garman founded the Beloved Community initiative two years ago, inspired by a Martin Luther King Day speaker at his home church, naming it for a Biblical concept that King often referenced in public speaking. Focused on providing mentors and growth opportunities for school-age children in Gaithersburg, the initiative has grown into a joint venture between Asbury, Wesley Theological Seminary, the City of Gaithersburg, the Montgomery County Executive’s Office and Montgomery County Schools.
Representatives from those entities have joined in providing a way for Gaithersburg elementary and G.E.D. students to join the thousands of people who converged in Washington, DC, to commemorate and celebrate the historic march that occurred on August 28, 1963.
“Over the past 50 years, the emphasis of Dr. Martin Luther King’s mission has shifted from improving relations between African-Americans and whites to racial equality for all, including Latinos,” says Garman. “Our Beloved Community initiative brings together whites, Latinos, African-Americans and children who were born in a variety of countries, representing the challenges American society faces in integrating various cultures today and demonstrating a successful path to making it happen.”
Monitor Asbury Methodist Village's Facebook page on the day of the March for video and photo updates chronicling the group's experiences.
As a doctoral student at Boston University in the early 60s, Garman studied under many of the same people who were advising Martin Luther King at the time. His dissertation was essentially a call to action for ministers to engage in the Civil Rights movement, titled, "A Theory of Responsible Action for Boston Area Clergy in Terms of the 1963 March on Washington.” The very name “Beloved Community” is drawn from a metaphor that King used frequently in his public speaking and writing.
“We felt it was very important and an extremely valuable opportunity to enable these children and young adults to experience the type of Civil Rights event that occurred today,” said Dr. Martha Brown, Director of Pastoral Care, Asbury Methodist Village. Other Asbury residents joining the 50th Anniversary March also have a long history of involvement in the Civil Rights movement.