West Point celebrates the legacy of MLK

  The Mime Team of Northside Christian Church entertained those who participated in the Martin Luther King Jr., celebration at Central School at Center Stage.
Staff Writer

Following the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative march, crowds gathered at center stage in Central School for the MLK Holiday Celebration activities with the theme, "Living the Dream."

Anna Jones, event coordinator, has been the driving force behind the MLK celebration for 22 years.

"The idea for the event began at Davidson Chapel C.M.E. Church," Jones said. "It really takes all year to plan, but people start calling in October to see what we plan to do. Then the real work starts after Thanksgiving to make sure everything is ready for the event in January."

Ward 2 Selectman William Binder said citizens need to remember the past so they don't forget what has been done to get the nation into the present.

"It is important to know where we come from and what has been done to benefit us," Binder said. "That's the only way we can be sure to continue on the right path to achieve even more."

Betty Mason said these types of programs are important to help people remember what hardships and struggles brought African Americans to where they are now.

"I remember the Civil Rights era, I was there," Mason said. "We need to honor Dr. King's memory and the others who died and suffered fighting for our freedom. Young people today have everything so easy. They need to know what happened to enable them to have access to education, opportunities and jobs. We have to remember where we come from."

Clay County Chancery Clerk Amy Berry said these types of events are important because they bring the all types of people together and allow everyone to concentrate on the positive things that unite the community.

The Northside Christian Church Mime Team presented an interpretive dance, and the Towncreek M.B. Church's Praise Team sang during the program.

Rev. Raphael Terry of Bigbee Valley and Davidson Chapel Christian, Methodist, Episcopal Churches, spoke to those present at the MLK celebration.

"It's good to be here to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Terry said.

Terry said he and his family had made a road trip to Florida. Within 45 minutes of leaving home, his wife and two daughters were sound asleep.

"After driving about two hours, my daughter woke up," Terry said. "And she asked 'Are we there yet?' I told her no and she went back to sleep. This continued with all three of them."

Terry said a lot had happened since the Civil Rights Movement during the life of MLK. There have been a lot of strides made for African Americans, including the election of the first African American president.

"We could ask Dr. King at this point, 'Are we there yet?" Terry said. "He would look at the number of our young men who are incarcerated and say 'No, we're not there yet.’”

Terry said in order to arrive, society has to have a destination in mind. He said African Americans have not yet reached their full potential and still have a long way to go on their journey.

"Former slaves raised themselves up with dreams and determination," Terry said. "The next generation reaped those benefits and continued to build on them. The next movement gave birth to Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for equality and justice. They marched, bled and died so we could have the first black president, Barack Obama serve two terms in the White House. In those regards we have made great strides."

Terry asked "But are we there yet?" He said the answer is no.