Annual tribute honors legacy of civil-rights leader

Print Article

Rabbi Allen Secher at his home in Whitefish. Secher and Erica von Kleist have partnered for the annual Love Lives Here celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., tonight at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

The annual Love Lives Here celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. is happening tonight at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Once again the event will be hosted by Rabbi Allen Secher and Erica von Kleist. It is free to attend, but donations will be accepted in the lobby for those who want to contribute.

Featured speaker is Wilmot Collins, mayor of Helena, who is the first black mayor in Montana and a former refugee from Liberia.

Love Lives Here is partnering with Groovetrail and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy alumni, who have traveled to the Flathead Valley from New York. They will perform with the members of the Flathead Ellington Project at the event.

Secher has been involved with organizing the event for a decade, and he still exudes passion for the annual nod to King’s legacy. Part of this passion comes from his own history of activism during the Civil Rights era. On June 18, 1964, he was one of 16 rabbis who were arrested in St. Augustine, Florida, for taking part in the civil rights protests there. Secher was 29 years old. It was the largest mass-arrest of rabbis in U.S. history.

“I have an enormous fear that racism is increasing in this country,” Secher said. “I’m still rattled from the personal attacks of two years ago. We need to hear King’s message and to receive it indelibly printed in our souls.”

Secher got to meet the Rev. Martin Luther King a few times. The first was in October 1962.

“There is a sense of the awesome you feel when you are in the presence of such greatness,” Secher said. “I cannot remember exactly what we talked about, but I remember his voice; it was rich.

“If you were engrossed in what he was saying and already akin to his message, then your vow to do whatever was possible became even more expansive. If, however, you were so inclined to be a racist, most often you just shut yourself off to him.”

As Secher attempted to explain King’s effect, he said ‘heavenly’ is the wrong term. “Witnessing King was witnessing one of the world’s beloved. You come away from it experiencing a spiritual high.

“For example, there was a time when King was speaking to us rabbis and the locals for an hour. You didn’t walk out of that place, you flew!” he recalled.

The gift of King to those he inspired was to convince them of the rightness of the cause and of the importance of their individual role within it.

With these poignant memories, Secher goes into another celebration doing his part to keep the message alive today.

“If some people can walk away from the evening and turn to Love Lives Here and say, ‘what can I do?’ or ask themselves, ‘can I play more of a part in creating a better world,’ then Erica and I will have succeeded beyond our expectations.”

Photojournalist Brenda Ahearn may be reached at 758-4435 or

Print Article

Read More Local News

Thousands sign petition to sell Montana to Canada to pay down national debt


February 20, 2019 at 10:23 am | More than 9,000 people have signed a petition to “sell” Montana to Canada for $1 trillion and use the proceeds to pay down the national debt — and it seems our northern neighbors would gladly welcome...


Read More

Job Corps center closing in Ronan

February 20, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Kicking Horse Job Corps, a longtime Mission Valley tribal job-training program, is closing Feb. 28. Located on Mollman Pass Trail south of Ronan, the Job Corps has operated since 1970 under a contra...


Read More

No shortage of incentives for downtown development

February 20, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Three speakers outlined new, emerging and often overlapping incentives for Kalispell development at the Chamber’s monthly luncheon Tuesday at the Red Lion Inn. City Manager Doug Russell, Bryson Pel...


Read More

Hearing planned for proposed Bigfork development

February 20, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Bigfork Land Use Advisory Committee will hold a public hearing on Thursday to discuss a proposal for preliminary-plat approval of a 68-acre subdivision off Montana 35 in Bigfork. The 79-lot subd...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy