Lord Nickens was laid to rest on Saturday.
Local elected officials, dignitaries, former colleagues and other citizens gathered on Saturday at the International Community Church in Frederick to bid farewell to civil rights leader Lord Nickens, who died on January 4th at the age of 99.
Many of the speakers at the two-hour ceremony spoke about how Nickens was brave enough to work to change, even at the risk of his own life. But Reverend Ronald Simmons, who officiated at the service, said these indignities Nickens suffered made him a better man. "And I believe that if Mr. Nickens had never been kicked as a young person, that if he hadn't been maltreated in the military, if he hadn't see the Japanese residents of California being thrown raw sharks to eat, if he had not experienced any of those things, he might never have been the man that we honor today," he said.
Nickens was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan for his efforts to end segregation.
A young minister named Reverend Derek Shackleford said he was "grateful" for Nickens' sacrifice. "I couldn't stand here today and have the education I have, live where I live, drive what I have, have what I have, if it wasn't for Mr. Nickens," says Reverend Shackleford.
A similar comment was echoed by Pastor Rex Bourne of the Jackson Chapel United Methodist Church. "Today, I can not only walk in Baker Park, but I can swim in Baker Park," he said, to the applause of the audience. "I thank God that I don't have to sneak into the back of Frederick Memorial Hospital, but we can walk into the front door of Frederick Memorial Hospital. I thank God that we don't have to sit in the balcony at the Tivoli, but we can go into the front door of the Weinberg Center."
Former NAACP President Seaven Gordon, who worked with Mr. Nickens, noted that in the past, there were a limited number of neighborhoods in Frederick where African-Americans could live. But Nickens worked to change that. "Through the efforts of Mr. Nickens, houses are opened up, bars are opened up, restaurants are opened up and you can live anyplace that you can afford.
Frederick Mayor Randy McClement spoke in praise of Mr. Nickens, who he said represented the city very well. "This gentleman was kind, respectful, but I can tell you I do know personally that he was---as I've said before--tenacious," the Mayor said.
Letters of sympathy to the family were read by Kathy Ford, including ones from US Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, and former Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine, who now heads up the US Capitol Police. She also read a proclamation from Governor Martin O'Malley honoring Mr. Nickens.
Nickens' casket was draped with an American flag, which honored his service in the US Army during World War II.
A procession, which traveled through parts of northern Frederick city, including Lord Nickens Street, took Mr. Nickens' casket to its final resting place, Resthaven Memorial Gardens.