Community leaders recommitted themselves to continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday during a leadership breakfast held in memory of the man who embodied the civil rights movement. The event was at Old Dorchester Center, a place where King meditated, studied and slept.
Elected officials, educators and church leaders praised King’s teachings of social change through non-violence and endorsed the idea that real change starts from within. The golden rule, several speakers said, should be everyone’s foundation.
The annual leadership breakfast was the second of a number of events organized by the Liberty County Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Association. Association members have said they made a concerted effort to reach local youth through this year’s events.
The four-day celebration of King’s life and contributions began with a play, "Operation Old School," staged Friday. Liberty County Commissioner Donald Lovette wrote the script, which depicts what happens when high school janitors decide to "make a difference" and mentor students.
Later on Saturday, a Youth Explosion featuring the Dream Choir was presented. Winners of the 2010 poster contest were announced at the event.The theme for this year’s Martin Luther King Day observance is "Back to the Basics … Doing the Right Things." Several speakers reminded those in attendance that much has been accomplished, but there is still more work to be done, they said.
"It’s time to make today your tomorrow, because tomorrow waits for no one," said Liberty County District 5 Commissioner Gary Gillard, who was master of ceremonies.
A number of elected officials attended the breakfast including Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington, Liberty County District 3 Commissioner Connie Thrift, Midway City Council member Curtes Roberts and Liberty County Probate Judge Nancy Aspinwall.
Verdell Jones, Liberty County Board of Education District 1 member, was keynote speaker.
Several young people, described as future leaders by their elders, also participated in the program. Charzetta Quartman delivered a welcome with grace and poise. Brandon Scott recited Dr. King’s famed "I Have a Dream" speech with fiery passion and firm conviction.
There was music and praise, inspirational poetry, lessons and laughter. And, of course, the memory of Dr. King was honored.
"Martin Luther King was one of those people who came on the scene at the very
right time," said Roberts, a church elder and newly elected official. "It really was a time for change. God placed him here. I felt he had a calling other than the ministry."
The Midway councilman said he hopes to make young people understand, "we stand on the shoulders of our fore-parents."
Yesterday’s civil rights leaders, in addition to King, include Ralph Waldo Quarterman of Liberty County history, Roberts said.
"He was the first president of the NAACP in Liberty County," he said.
Another forebearer to be remembered is A. Randolph Philip, Roberts said. "He organized the Pullman Pullers (train porters) and advocated for them."
In addition to local church services today, a parade celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday will begin at 10 a.m. Monday in downtown Hinesville.
A commemorative service will follow in the gym at Bradwell Institute. The Rev. Ashley Johnson Morris of St. James AME Church in Jones will speak.