Local residents celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday morning hundreds of people marched down the streets of Picayune to honor the memory of a leader and well known civil rights activist, the late Martin Luther King Jr., for whom a federal holiday was setaside on Monday to honor his work and memory.

Community members from all over gathered at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church Monday morning to prepare for the march. As the march made its way down Rosa and Beech Streets, some participants walked, some rode in small or large vehicles or floats, and others lined the streets to watch, but participation was widespread.

Each year the Picayune Martin Luther King Committee holds the event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to bring the community together and honor his memory.

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After the march, participants gathered at Rose of Sharon Church for the celebration. There, several speakers took the podium to share their insight on how civil rights is evolving since King’s days and how they would like to see it progress.

Pearl River County NAACP president Jimmy Richardson said he is proud to live in a time where a black man can hold the highest elected office in this country and an era where black people are represented in elected offices nationwide.

“I’m thankful that I live in an era where we’re not judged by the color of our skin, but by the contents of our character,” Richardson said.

However, there is still work to do, Richardson said. He said he’d like to see more black people graduate from high school, rather than go to jail or become pregnant. He would also like to see a time where black people do not make up the majority of prison populations. To that end Richardson said Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., who was this year’s Grand Marshal, along with Interim City Manager Jim Luke and Sheriff David Allison have pledged to work with local communities to form a nationwide model of harmonious living, in so doing the struggle will continue to further increase civil rights.

Local entrepreneur Dub Herring took a moment to speak at the celebration as well. During his speech he said he thinks back about five years to when a major hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, and that storm didn’t discriminate against anyone.

“If you had a house on the Coast, it just left a concrete slab,” Herring said.

Ronald Dunston with the Mississippi Department of Corrections also took a moment to share some thoughts. He said during his four years of working with MDOC he has seen a number of people pass in front of his desk, and while they’re there he takes the opportunity to try to help them. He asked the attendees do the same instead of passing judgment.

“All of us have done wrong, we just ain’t got caught,” Dunston said.

The best way to help the community is not to maintain a judgmental state of mind, but instead help those in trouble find a stable foundation in church.

“What have you done for somebody besides yourself?” Dunston asked.

Newly elected 15th District Circuit Court Judge Anthony Mozingo also took a moment to share some words at the celebration. He asked the audience to work to remove the scourge of drugs from the entire county to avoid the deterioration of family and church.

Mirroring King’s message of unity, First Baptist Church of Picayune pastor Keith Warden said during his speech that he sees a day where everyone, regardless of race, will attend church together and worship.