Keeping the dream alive
Published 11:59 am Wednesday, January 21, 2009
By By MaryClaire Foster
It’s been only eight years since every state in the nation has begun to recognize the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but Atmore has long been honoring the famed civil rights leader and continued to do so with three days of memorial events.
As guest speaker at the Concerned Citizens annual Prayer Breakfast, Valarie Osby spoke of the journey for civil rights that began with Rosa Parks and King.
Osby was chosen as guest speaker for the event, because, among other accomplishments, she is the first black mayor in Escambia County.
The Concerned Citizens hold the annual breakfast to not only honor King, but also to worship the Lord who made what King did possible, according to Bishop Willie L. Williams who presided over the breakfast.
The same spiritual reverence was evident again at the Progressive Civic and Recreational Club’s 23rd annual observance of the holiday at Zion Star A.M.E. Zion Church, when numerous speakers spoke of King’s accomplishments and the impact God made in his life and the lives of those there present on Sunday.
The Rev. Stanley Felder gave the sermon at the service and spoke of the long struggle for civil rights and how now more than ever people must continue King’s fight for equality for all.
The Concerned Citizens continued their celebrations with a parade and reception program on Monday.
According to Sandra Gray, director for the Concerned Citizens, the parade has been in existence for approximately 25 years, and began when local students wanted to take the day off from school for the holiday. Educator James McNeil told the children that if they were not going to school they had to do something in honor of the day.
The program following the parade was also held at Gaines Chapel A.M.E. Church and again the importance of God in the life of Dr. King and those who he impacted was stressed.
City of Atmore Councilman Chris Walker reminded those in attendance, particularly the youth, what sacrifices were made to allow black people the opportunities they now have.
Referring to Tuesday’s inauguration, Walker said, “We are on the eve of something he made possible. If you’re feeling 10 feet tall, I’ll tell you why. It’s because you’re standing on the shoulders of those people that came before us.”