MLK birthday celebration

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The birthday of an important civil rights leader was celebrated in style as Picayune community members marched down Rosa Street before holding a service in his honor.

The march began at the intersection of Beech Street and Rosa Street where a group of pastors, community members and warmly bundled small children gathered in the cool winter air. After proceeding down Rosa, the march headed to the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church where services were held. During the services a number of musical numbers and speakers honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil rights work he did.

“He was willing to go all the way so that life would be better for all of us,” said the Rev. Edward Stubbs.

Speeches centered on pride in what it means to be black and equality for all. Mayor Greg Mitchell reflected on a time decades ago when every American was not allowed to vote, or associate with each other.

“I have no problem telling you that we have made great strides, but I’ll also tell you we still got a long way to go,” Mitchell said.

The Rev. Joey Mark pointed out that while history books in his day did not cover the accomplishments of blacks, many black men did great work.

Some of those men included, Booker T. Washington, who worked to teach equality, George Washington Carver, who found more than one use for a peanut and Jackie Robinson, who became the first major league baseball player and a civil rights activist.

“Those black men make me glad to say, ‘I’m black and I’m proud,’” Mark said.

City council members also shared with the audience. Council member Donald Parker used his three minutes to sing “I won’t complain” to the audience.

Council member Leavern Guy spoke about a quote on this year’s program that stated “Where do we go from here?”. That quote, Guy said, suggests that humanity has reached a point of confusion as to where to head in the future.

“There are so many people who paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy these freedoms,” he said.

Guy said the biggest challenge is drug use that has destroyed the community and no longer can the community keep their heads buried in the sand.

“Our young people don’t appreciate the sacrifices that have been made,” Guy said.

A former council member also was in attendance, a man whom Parker called a trail blazer who lead the way for him to be where he is now, Luther Jones.

“I’m glad that I’m able to celebrate this day,” Jones said.

The event was organized by the Martin Luther King Committee and the Pearl River County Ministerial Alliance with assistance from a number of local organizations, clubs and churches.