Speaker: King forged ahead with faith, trust

Monday, January 16, 2006

At the St. James A.M.E. Church in Cape Girardeau on Sunday evening, praises rang throughout the church for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on," sang the crowd of those who had gathered for the 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration.

Typically the celebration is held on the national observance day of King's birthday, the third Monday of January, but organizer Debra Mitchell-Braxton said it seemed more appropriate to hold it this year on Sunday.

"It is his actual birthday and had he still been alive, he would be 77 years old," Mitchell-Braxton said. "It also gives people another day to come honor him."

Several guest speakers praised the work of the man who holds such a powerful legacy of service to humanity.

The Rev. Bridgette Williams, of Olive Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Wilson City, Mo., thanked God for King.

"We thank you for our freedom," she said. "We thank you for being able to go to the places we never thought we'd be allowed to go."

Williams' husband, the Rev. Melvin Williams, was the keynote speaker for the community-wide celebration.

"We do not want to forget this day," said the Rev. Melvin Williams, also of Olive Grove Missionary Baptist Church. "This day will be a day that will be talked about forever."

King was led to perform task that God presented him with, Melvin Williams said. "As Martin began to walk the walk for God, he had to step out on faith and trust. Martin followed God's word and he has left this place with dignity."

Those in the audience responded with amens and hallelujahs throughout Williams' keynote address.

During the event, Mitchell-Braxton presented the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award, an honor given to an individual or organization in the community that has exemplified the work of King.

This year's award was presented to the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Girardeau; NaTika Rowles, executive director, accepted the award on the organization's behalf.

"This is an organization that serves as a safe-haven to protect or children and give them hope," Mitchell-Braxton said. "It inspires the youth and is a positive place for kids to receive educational and character development."

Rowles said the Boys and Girls Club teaches children King's dream on a daily basis.

"We teach them that it's important to remember where we came from and we have to reiterate that to our children," Rowles said. "So many things are fighting against our youth and the youth are our next Dr. Martin Luther King."

A daylong community celebration continues today at 8:30 a.m. at the 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial breakfast and at noon at the fifth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Benefit luncheon. Both events will take place at the Osage Community Centre, 1625 N. Kingshighway, in Cape Girardeau.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

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