Several local churches celebrated the 13th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration program at Springfield Baptist Church Monday morning.
King’s memory was commemorated through songs, praise dances and speeches from guest speakers.
“On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit,” said Angela Smith, of Springfield Baptist Church. “We commemorate on this holiday, a man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice everyday, the man who braved threats and jail beatings and who ultimately paid the the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.”
Smith, reflected on the changes that have occurred over time with racial equality.
“As I reflect on the days that I entered the exit, in other words I went to the exit door just to get in, although I was taught that an exit meant leaving,” she said. “And then I can remember the moments that the water fountain and the break facilities at the ten cents store had categories. A ten cents store sign with a sign for white and colored only. But it was in the leader, Dr. King, who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. This holiday honors the courage of a man who endured harassment, threats and beatings, bombings and went to jail 29 times to achieve freedom for others. Who knew he would pay the ultimate price for his leadership, but kept on marching and protesting and organizing anyway.”
King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was read by Angel Brown.
Mayor Jim Thornton was in attendance and thanked the guests for attending the ceremony.
“I don’t think words can express how wonderful it is to be in a time and a place like this where we can celebrate someone like Dr. King and the legacy, and doing it through praise and celebration,” he said. “Words are important and Dr. King showed that to us.”
He referenced a letter that King had written while in the Birmingham jail.
“‘We are caught together in an inseparable network of mutuality that we are tied in a single garment of destiny,’” he paraphrased. “‘What affects us all directly, affects us all indirectly’ Those are words that express that we are all apart of one big community and the family of God.”
At closing of the ceremony, the attendees joined hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.”