Fayette County

MLK Jr. Day speaker encourages organized action over ‘culture of tweetism’

The Rev. Otis Moss III of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.
The Rev. Otis Moss III of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Photo provided

On Jan. 11, the Rev. Otis Moss III posted a “scientific formula to beat Trumpism” on Facebook.

It starts with this: “Information is power.” And ends with this: “Information + action + organization + imagination + faith is unbeatable.”

Moss, the senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and the keynote speaker for Lexington’s Martin Luther King Day celebration, said the entry was written “in response to peoples’ ‘culture of tweetism,’” in which outrage is limited to online complaints rather than combined with organized action and imagination.

Black leaders such as the Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Moss said, “made a commitment without the technology.” Modern citizens, blessed with social media, are able to speed through torrents of information, but Moss said they need to back that with a commitment to action that is more than electronic commenting.

By imagination, Moss said, he means action that leads to a new world view. Movements including the Standing Rock environmental protests, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring are examples of actions “creating a new global movement toward justice and fairness and focusing on the poorest of the poor globally.”

A native of Cleveland, Moss graduated from Atlanta’s Morehouse College and earned a master’s degree from Yale Divinity School. He has a doctorate in ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ.

Moss said he thinks Trump’s election as president “is a setback, but it is also a call ... to move from rhetoric to organization in the street and building of institutions that will outlast ourselves.”

The president-elect “has surrounded himself with people who are exceptionally wealthy” and “do not have the concerns of everyday Americans within their financial portfolios and DNA,” Moss said in a recent phone interview.

“Part of the strength of our democracy is in that diversity,” Moss said. “I’m not just speaking of racial diversity, but of class diversity ... and ethnic diversity.”

Moss’s theology causes him to worry about the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice and economic inequality. He led the team that created the “My Life Matters” curriculum, including the viral video “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival,” created after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo.

Among members of his congregation, Moss said, Trump’s election has caused “some discouragement, but there is definitely some righteous anger that for such a time as this, we are required to do this work.”

Moss’s father, Otis Moss Jr., is known for his involvement in the civil rights movement and his friendship with Martin Luther King Jr. and Martin Luther King Sr.

Moss, a basketball enthusiast whose two children play basketball, will make his first visit to Lexington. One thing he hopes to do before he goes: Have his picture taken in Rupp Arena.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman

Martin Luther King Day celebration

6:30 a.m. Unity Breakfast, Lexington Convention Center, sold out.

9 a.m. Freedom March begins at Lexington Convention Center Heritage Hall, 430 W. Vine St. at 10 a.m. Lining up for the march begins at 9 a.m. in the corridor of Heritage Hall.

11 a.m. Free commemorative program in Heritage Hall featuring the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, as keynote speaker. Committed, an a cappella group, will perform. www.uky.edu/mlk. Free.

Other MLK Day Events


Community Forum: 1-2:30 p.m. Jan. 14. East Second Street Christian Church, 146 Constitution St. A panel including Commander Mike Wright of the Lexington Police Department, Daryl Love of the Lexington-Fayette County School Board and the Rev. Carol Ruthven of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington will speak about the building of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Beloved Community.’ Eastsecondstreetcc.org.

Community Worship Service: 6 p.m. Jan. 15. Central Christian Church, 205 E. Short St. An interfaith worship service featuring guest speaker the Rev. Forrest E. Harris Sr., president of American Baptist College and director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School . 859-233-1551. Centralchristianlex.info.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day: a Community Celebration: 12:30-3 p.m. Jan. 16. Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, 251 W. Second St. Lunch, speech by Devine Carama, family activities. 859-254-4175. Carnegiecenterlex.org. Free. No registration necessary.

‘Race: The Jesse Owens Story’ free screening: 2:30 p.m. Jan. 16. Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Presented by One World Films. www.uky.edu/mlk.


‘The Resilience of Memory’: 7 p.m. Jan. 16. Norton Center for The Arts, 600 W. Walnut St., Danville. Presentation by House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly, Rep. Stacey Abrams. Free. Centre.edu.


Forward To Justice: All events Jan. 16. The day includes speaker Derek King and vocalist Clark Janell Davis. 3:30 p.m. ‘Meet the King,’ Ed Davis Learning Center, 151 Ed Davis Ln., Georgetown. March begins 4 p.m. at the Learning Center. Program 5 p.m., Georgetown Baptist Church, 207 S. Hamilton St., Georgetown. Ggtown.org.

Mount Sterling

March and Program: Downtown march begins 3:45 p.m. Jan. 15 at Mount Sterling courthouse, ends at Evergreen Baptist Church, 304 S. Queen St. Program 4 p.m. Jan. 15 at the church.


Unity Breakfast: 9-11 a.m. Jan. 16. First Christian Church, 412 W. Main St., Richmond. Guest speaker, Aaron Thompson, interim president of Kentucky State University. Free admission. 859-248-5564. humanrights@richmond.ky.us.

March and Service: Assembly 4:45 p.m., march 5 p.m. Jan. 16. First Baptist Church, 302 Francis St., Richmond. 859-624-2045.