Listen to Rev.'ll hear Dr. King!

Back in the 1970s, when I owned and operated WGHN, I hosted a daily morning talk show. Early one year someone called asking if I would like a guest for Black History Week (that was before the observance became Black History Month!). Always eager to welcome special guests, I agreed. No name. No arrangements. Just watch for a guest. 

The date arrived during Black History Week. WGHN had just moved into posh studios in one of Grand Haven’s very nice neighborhoods. Watching out my office window, I noted an old car approaching. A handsome, well-dressed Black man with a striking white streak of hair sort of abandoned his vehicle in the street, and ambled up the sidewalk. I anxiously awaited…no one arrived. 

(Gasp) The imposing Black man, smoking a cigar (still tolerated in buildings back then), walked up to one of the very nice houses on our street and walked right in, thinking it was the radio station! Fortunately, even in lily-white Grand Haven, someone was gracious, did not call the police, and sent him to our address. 

Cy Young walked in that door, sat down in our lobby, and chatted with me like we had known each other all our lives. That began a friendship that lasted the rest of his life. A loving, special friendship that had each of us calling each other “brother,” and hugging upon each greeting. 

What an interesting man! Cy had a background as a professional entertainer and singer. Turns out he had emceed acts at a popular club in my hometown of Muskegon. Cy lived from hand to mouth, and at the time was driving a taxi in Grand Rapids to cover his personal expenses. 

While in a GR parking lot waiting for a fare, he found a tattered book that had been thrown away. It contained all the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King. Discovering that he had a God-given talent of recitation, he memorized all of them! Word got around in Grand Rapids, and someone from one of the civil rights groups contacted me about a guest appearance. Coincidence? No way! 

His recitation of MLK speeches, along with his delightful introductions, had me spellbound in that radio show! At the end of the hour, I was in tears. 

Cy Young later became an ordained minister, and I booked the Rev. Cy Young on many occasions…in service clubs, in our church, and in prisons with our male chorus HIS MEN. He was a tireless campaigner for civil rights, based on MLK principles. Sadly, his mighty voice was silenced in 1993 as he walked from a civil rights meeting in Grand Rapids. He was struck down by a car, and never regained consciousness. 

Fortunately, in one of our MLK church services I saved a recording of Cy delivering Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s my gift to you on this special day. It may not be MLK, but that's who you'll hear!  RIP, my brother Cy!

Dr. King and Rev. Young. I celebrate both heroes today!


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