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Kornegay's personal journey intersected with King's quest

By Staff
REMEMBERING KING Like many Americans, retired Meridian dentist Dr. Hobert Kornegay was moved by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s quest for civil rights. Kornegay and King met while attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, when Kornegay was an upperclassman poised to "harass" a freshman King. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown/special sections editor
Jan. 20, 2002
At the start of his senior year at Atlanta's Morehouse College in the mid-1940s, Dr. Hobert Kornegay was prepared to engage in the traditional "harassment" of college freshmen.
But there was one fellow among the group Kornegay thought should not receive too harsh treatment. Not only was the freshman younger than most of his peers 15 but he also already had quite a number of achievements in his young life.
Little did Kornegay know then that one day that freshman would become one of the most honored black men in America, leading millions in a non-violent struggle for civil rights.
King would surprise Kornegay again nearly two decades later, when he came to Philadelphia to investigate the burning of churches in the area.
The two college classmates were only able to visit briefly, but during their conversation King made an observation about Kornegay's wife, Ernestine.
Classmate or not, Kornegay was a strong King supporter.
As Americans prepare to commemorate King for achievements during his short life, Kornegay said he believes the slain civil rights leader would be disappointed today.
King also would be disenchanted by today's black youth, Kornegay said.
In recent years, King's family has been accused of "selling out the dream," particularly when an advertising campaign played computer-generated tricks with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Critics also have objected to the family's selling King's image and words, as well artifacts.
Kornegay said King's speeches and image have long been marketed by others. Most times without the family's permission.
Kornegay, who is recuperating from a stroke suffered last year, is currently working on his autobiography that will also touch on his experiences with King and other civil rights leaders.