The Akron Urban League Honors Longtime Community Activist, the Rev. Ronald Fowler
Monday, the Akron Urban League is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day by honoring long-time community activist Ronald Fowler, pastor laureate of the Arlington Church of God.
Fowler will receive the Urban League’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement award for his spiritual guidance and personal mentorship over the past five decades.
I talked with Akron Urban League president and CEO Sadie Winlock about her views of today’s civil rights movement, and asked Rev. Fowler to reflect on his accomplishments in Akron.
The Akron Urban League is celebrating this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by honoring the Rev. Ronald Fowler for his service to the community with the organization's first Lifetime Achievement award.
Fowler is pastor laureate of the Arlington Church of God in Akron and has been active in building community relations in the city for 50 years. He was named pastor in 1969 and retired in 2009.
Fowler is best known for co-founding the Love Akron Network in 1995 with Knute Larson, former pastor of the Chapel. Fowler was deeply involved with bridge building efforts spearheaded by the Akron Beacon Journal as part of its Coming Together Project, prompting a visit in 1997 from President Bill Clinton.
Fowler says the continuing work of Love Akron builds on the inspiration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “and community was what Dr. King was all about.”
"In fact, his last writings was a book entitled Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, and it’s something I’ve always believed in and benefited from enormously.”
“I’m honored that the Urban League would honoring me on this day, but really they’re honoring that community that made me what I am,” says Fowler.
BLM and MLK Legacy
The civil rights movement launched by King continues under the banner of Black Lives Matter, according to Sadie Winlock, head of the Akron Urban League.
She says it’s “the right thing at the right time.”
Winlock says the young people in the BLM movement, like those of a generation ago, are learning as they go along.
“They didn’t do everything right,” she says of the early days of the civil rights movement under King, “but they learned from their mistakes and they got better with time.”
Winlock believes the Black Lives Matter movement will be the catalyst for the “changes needed in the 21st century.”
Winlock and the Akron Urban League are also featuring director, screenwriter, author and film producer Antwone Fisher in Monday’s celebration.
The breakfast program, called Overcoming in the 21st Century, gains inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr. as Winlock says the Akron Urban League continues to work toward eliminating disparities in health, education and employment for black Americans.