Parade, program mark MLK Day

Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The din and whine of motorcycles provided the backbeat to the parade, beginning in the heart of downtown and rolling through Brookhaven on Sunday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hours later, the cadence of oratory and the rhythm of applause in the Alexander Jr. High auditorium continued the work of honoring a legacy while highlighting those in the community known for their service.

At a program held Sunday night on the eve of Martin Luther King Day hosted by the local branch of Alpha Phi Alpha, an organization in which King was a member, Brookhaven High School basketball coach Preston Wilson spoke on the evening’s theme: “Rejuvenating the dream through education and service.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The local Alpha branch further bestowed its Jesse Buie Community Service on Rose “Polly” Powell and Bobby Bell.

No program was held in 2012, so Powell received the 2012 award while Bell was bestowed with the 2013 award.

Bell, currently Brookhaven’s assistant police chief, was honored for his work with the Boys and Girls Club.

“We’re looking for someone that stands out, someone that makes a mark on the community,” said the program’s organizer Vernell Hooker.

Standing in the Alexander hallway after the ceremony, holding the Jesse Buie certificate and shaking hands, Bell described the honor as a shock.

“I didn’t expect this,” he said.

He’s been instrumental to keeping the doors open of the Boys and Girls Club about 26 years now.

“We want to present a safe haven for our kids,” Bell said of his work with the club.

Hooker spotlighted Powell’s work with the “O” Foundation in bestowing her with the award.

She echoed Bell in calling the award a shock, but said she’s also been surprised by the reception the foundation she founded has received.

“The ‘O’ Foundation has been a growing process,” Powell said.

But she’s not ready to lean back on her accolades yet.

“It made me want to do some more,” Powell said.

And that’s what the theme of the evening – “rejuvenating the dream” – encouraged the crowd to do, work to further the work of King’s dream.

Wilson, who’s been teaching and coaching since 1992, told his Sunday night listeners continuing that dream requires a change in walk, a change in attitude and a change of heart.

When they weren’t urging the community to look forward, Sunday night’s speakers also took time to look back toward King’s legacy.

Stephanie Henderson, an administrator with the Brookhaven School District, reflected on the personal meaning of the event for her.

“This event is personal for me,” Henderson said. “It is because of men like (King) that fought and lost their lives that I am able to stand before you.”

Said Wilson of King, “He was truly a man sent by God.”