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Justice Harold Melton Speaks At Turner
Turner Middle School
Georgia State Supreme Court Judge Harold Melton
Georgia State Supreme Court Judge Harold Melton
Posted On: Friday, February 29, 2008

Georgia State Supreme Court Judge Harold Melton said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s real message was that people of all races and beliefs should be able to sit down together at the "table of brotherhood."

Melton spoke Friday morning to a Black History Month assembly at Turner Middle School in Lithia Springs. The meeting was organized by Troy Stupart, Turner teacher and student government adviser.

Melton noted that King was a minister, and as a minister his first goal was to love God, and then to love his neighbor as himself. He said King saw that segregation oppressed not only black people, but the white people who held onto the system. He compared King's contribution to that of the Good Samaritan in the Bible.

"That was the model that King was following," he said. "We were a broken nation. It was more than an effort to end segregation, but an effort to heal the country."

Melton said because King and his followers chose non-violence as a means of change, all America was able to see how ugly segregation was. "On their TVs, they saw dogs chewing on people and water hoses turned on them," he said.

He pointed out that all non-violent social change goes through four stages.

First is the fact finding, he said, where people learn what's really going on. Then comes negotiation, when an attempt is made to work things out. The third step, he said, is purification. This was the step when King advised his followers to expect beatings, but to resist the effort to fight back.

The fourth and final step was protest.

"There came a time when marching was appropriate," he said. Melton noted that on TV lawyer shows, you see attorneys battling in court. However, he said most of the work is done in fact-finding and settling cases by sitting down together.

"You never want to turn down a seat at the table," he advised the students. "The table of brotherhood is where decisions are being made."

Melton said being the third African American on the state Supreme Court meant even more than being the first since it showed the path was open to all. He said this is a memorable year since it's the first time that a woman, an African American and a Hispanic are all campaigning to be president.

"Whether you're here at school, at church, your neighborhood or the U.N. (United Nations), I want to see you at the table of brotherhood, making a difference," Melton told the students at the conclusion of his talk.

Melton was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court on July 1, 2005, by Gov. Sonny Perdue. Prior to joining the court, he served as executive counsel to Perdue, with special interests in water rights disputes and the delivery of criminal justice services in the state. Before joining the governor's office, he served 11 years in the Georgia Department of Laws under two attorneys general where he dealt with consumer interests, the creation of the lottery system and administration of the state's tobacco industry settlement.

Melton received his B.S. degree from Auburn University and J.D. degree from the University of Georgia in 1991.

He previously served as a volunteer leader of Young Life Ministries for 11 years and is currently a board member of Atlanta Youth Academies and director of Teen Ministry at Southwest Christian Fellowship Church.

Article taken from the Douglas County Sentinel

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