MLK Ceremony looks at legacy
Warm temperatures and a clear blue sky met the smiling faces of parade goers and attendees as they gathered Sunday to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin L. King Jr. and his contributions to the civil rights movement that continues to this day.
The Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Parade started at 3 p.m. on East Minnesota Street in front of Williams Mortuary. The parade featured young and old, the 601 bikers club, marchers with signs regarding civil rights yet to be gained and a few horses left some of the parade’s youngest onlookers flabbergasted. It ended at Alexander Junior High School after passing many waving residents along the way.
Later that afternoon, residents gathered again in the auditorium at Alexander Junior High School for the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration hosted by the Mu Pi Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
After an opening invocation by Reverend Ken Brent, Linda Lilly led the audience in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, also known as the African-American National Anthem. Lines like “Sing a song full of faith that the dark past has taught us, sing a song full of hope that the present has brought us, facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won,” encourage singers and listeners to look back on work that has been done to right injustices and look forward to the work that has to be done to continue the fight.
Following a welcome from Brookhaven Police Department Chief Bobby Bell, the 2015 Alpha Beaux, a male youth group led by the APA Fraternity, led a Litany of Commemoration that asked event goers “What are you doing for others?”
Dr. James B. Hall of Anointed Nephrology and Hypertension gave the keynote address for the celebration, speaking to the topic: “Dr. King’s Dream: Is it alive today?” In his address to the audience and community he sought to extend Dr. Martin L. King Jr.’s idea of a dream of the future to their own lives and situations.
“It’s necessary that everyone of us follows our dreams,” Hall said. “Don’t be nonchalant about your dreams. Gifts and talents are God’s deposits in your personal book.”
Hall encouraged young and old alike to set goals to reach their dreams, look past peers and procrastination toward realization of your dreams and to trust in themselves.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve,” Hall said.
A passionate and animated address peppered with anecdotes from his quest to get into medical school, find funding and push himself to reach his goals was met with a standing ovation at its finish.
Jessie Buie Community Service Award
Presented by president of the Mu Pi Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. the Jessie Buie Community Service Award went to Andrew Spiller of Brookhaven. Among his many contributions to individuals within the community, Spiller regularly visits the elderly in area nursing homes and their homes in the community.
Spiller who was unaware of his receiving the award while at the program in Alexander Junior High made his way through to hugs and handshakes to greet Hooker on the stage and accept his award. Upon accepting he said that he wasn’t sure that we was going to make it to the event but was glad he was able to make it.
“This will just give me more strength, faith and hope,” Spiller said before returning to his seat.
Past recipients of the award are Steven Keys and the CAFE A+ in 2011, Rose “Polly” Powell in 2012, Chief Bobby Bell Sr. in 2013 and Reverend Larry Jointer and Suzanna G. Britt in 2014.
After the award presentation, Hooker returned to the podium and thanked the audience and reflected on the chance to host the celebration for 2015.
“It’s wonderful to come and give back to the community,” Hooker said at the closing of the ceremony.