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Observance featured a play
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Fort Stewart’s Main Post Chapel was nearly full Wednesday as soldiers and dignitaries gathered to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and to hear one of his closest friends, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young.
The observance was hosted by the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team’s Headquarters Company.
Titled “Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality,” the event engaged the audience’s senses with a variety of audio and visual stimulants.
During a play, “Remembering Martin,” 1st BCT soldiers set the scene of the 1960s and brought King, his family and their struggles to life.
“When I look at this flag, I remember Martin. He shed his blood … like the other freedom fighters. His blood was a price that he paid … that he paid for us to live together …,” SFC Keisha Alvarenga, playing Coretta Scott King, said as she held up a folded flag.
Alvarenga’s believable display of Coretta King was coupled with a trio of performers illustrating King in all stages of his life. Soldiers Ty Goudy, Sgt. Timothy Williams and Cpt. Lenny Brazzle brought the audience to their feet with three orations of King’s “I have a dream” speech.
After the play, Goudy said re-enacting King’s legacy was a moment he will never forget.
“It was an awesome, exhilarating feeling, but it was some huge shoes to fill,” he said. “[It is that way] anytime you go to do a role or part, but this one right here was very personal to me because it affected who I am, because I am an African-American.”  
African-American or not, Young, who said he visited Fort Stewart with King in the 1960s and played basketball, said King’s dream is no longer as simple as race.
“The vision of Martin Luther King was real, but the world in which we live is different,” the former mayor of Atlanta said. “We just can’t integrate what we have and make it available to black people, because the problems are no longer black and white. They are rich and poor. They are global.”
Young left his position as pastor of Bethany Congregational Church in Thomasville in 1961 to with King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He said King was just “a regular guy,” a guy who Young said has many similarities with President-elect Barack Obama.
“When Barack Hussein Obama came along, I not only said, ‘no,’ I said, ‘hell no,’ America is not going to elect an African-named man president of the United States. I changed when he went to Iraq, and he threw up a basketball … I said uh-oh that’s just like Martin Luther King, the Lord is with this brother. He is going to be our president.”
On a more serious note, Young challenged the audience to keep King’s dream alive and, like Obama, to continue to fulfill it.   
“[Obama] has never said ‘I can be the savior of the world.’ He said, ‘yes, we can’,” Young said.
“Martin Luther King never took upon himself the task of saving the world either. He really was put in that leadership by a lot of poor people. [People] that helped him to see that he had a global responsibility to help the world ..., That’s your responsibility too.”
Lt. Col. Shatrece Buchanan, 3rd ID equal opportunity adviser and program manager said Young’s presence fulfilled the idea for the event.
“The whole idea of this event is to educate people on the life of Martin Luther King and to juxtaposed his life with the current and relative issues of today … so Ambassador Young was an ideal choice in that respect,” Buchanan said. “He was able to correlate what was happening then and put it together with what is going on now – in terms of our military and the economy.”

Local MLK pioneers recognized
Members of the Liberty County MLK association gathered Saturday at Baconton Missionary Baptist Church Fellowship Home for an annual awards banquet to honor award winners for their contributions to the community.
“This is the year of the pioneers,” Daisy Jones, the association’s spokeswoman said. “We’re recognizing those who actually organized the MLK observance here in Liberty County.”
There were eight founders who began what Donald Lovette of Love-it Productions said has become a week’s worth of MLK events.  This year, all eight of them will be honored during the parade. Those who are still living will serve as the parade’s grand marshals.
“They are Dr. Jimmy Smiley, Rev. Henry Frasier Sr., Mr. Henry Relaford, Rev. Johnny Edwards, E.B. Cooper (posthumously), Rev. James Overstreet (posthumously), Deacon Hank White Sr. (posthumously) and Rev. Willie Anderson (posthumously),” said Lovette, who leads the association’s award committee with Assistant Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard.
According to association President Alvin Jackson, the men were chosen for making a difference at a time when it seemed all odds were against them.
“We wanted to recognize them because we realize that they brought about a change here in Liberty County,” Jackson said. “When they first started the parade, they could not get any school bands to participate. Now, almost every band in Liberty County is in the parade.”
The pioneers of Hinesville’s original MLK observance were not the only ones recognized at Saturday’s banquet.
Carrie Kent-Brown was awarded the MLK Trail Blazer award.
“She was one of the first African-American mayors, and one of even fewer female African-American mayors, in the country during that time,” Lovette said. “I think that is very special.”
Brown served as the mayor of Waltourville for years, starting in 1974.
Also receiving awards were Charles Frasier (civic award), the Hi-fidelity Club (community support award) and Velma Tyler (committee award).
Howard said he and his fellow members are thrilled with this year’s award recipients.  
“We’re just excited about all that has been done and continues to be done through the efforts of those who have served their community,” Howard said.

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