Commemoration offers learning experience

Commemoration offers learning experience
January 22
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Donna Rogers- Rev. Dr. Sir Walter Mack Jr. speaks.)
Angela Evans with daughter Jordan and son Jaden.

Angela Evans with daughter Jordan and son Jaden.

A family came from Randleman, about 40 miles away, to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 35th annual Noon Hour Commemoration of King’s birthday on Monday, Jan. 19.

Angela Evans brought her children, Jaden Booker, 13, and Jordan Booker, 9, to the Benton Convention Center because, she said, she lives in a community that is not as diverse as Winston-Salem.

“They need to learn about where we come from,” Evans said. She said she didn’t want her children to “grow up ignorant.”

The family heard about King and others dedicated to civil rights, including State Sen. Earline Parmon, of District 32 in Forsyth County, who received the MLK Dare to Make a Difference Award, and the late Dr. Maya Angelou, who was remembered via a video presentation. Angelou was a speaker at the third annual event in 1983, and she won the MLK Dare to Make a Difference Award in 2007.

Parmon thanked the MLK Noon Hour Commemoration Committee for the award and the people who helped develop her character and those who have elected her to office.

“Any time you want to be a game-changer, you have to be a part of the game. I want to thank you for allowing me to be in the game,” she said. “It took many of you to help me to dare to make a difference, and I want to thank you.”

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Sen. Earline Parmon prepares to accept an award

Mütter D. Evans, who founded and organized the Noon Hour Commemoration, urged members of the audience to go see the movie “Selma,” because it will help people understand “why it is important that you vote every time there is an election.” She showed a video of the award-winning song in the movie, titled “Glory.”

The movie, which is playing in Winston-Salem, depicts events leading up to the celebrated civil rights march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, the capital, in 1965. Those events helped persuade President Lyndon B. Johnson to push for the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Congress passed the measure, and Johnson signed it. King led the push for the Voting Rights Act.

William Gresham, father of Kimberley Park Elementary School Principal Amber Baker, said he is a retired chief police photographer from Washington, D.C. who has been in Winston-Salem four months. He came to the Noon Hour Commemoration at the urging of his daughter and Dr. Sir Walter L. Mack, Jr., pastor and teacher of Union Baptist Church, who delivered the keynote address.

Mack, whose presentation was more of a sermon, spoke from the theme of the commemoration:  “Keep Moving Forward: The Struggle Continues.”

Mack asked what would King say today about various events happening in the world, including the election of President Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, elected twice.

“It seems we’re smart enough to put him in office, but not smart enough to protect him and his family,” Mack said King would say.

“King would tell us we’ve got to keep moving forward because the struggle continues and the fight ain’t over,” Mack said, because three things King was working against in his day are still here: war, poverty and racism.

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Members of the 30th District Masonic Lodge of N.C., Prince Hall Affiliated, hold hands as the audience sings “We Shall Overcome.”

Mack said that war and violence affect children’s minds and “is not acceptable.”

Parents should not allow violent video games into their homes, he said.

“Poverty is all around us, yet we spend money on things we already got,” such as televisions, Mack said, when people should be helping those in need.

King would tell black Americans to “hold elected officials accountable because one community will develop and the other will suffer.”

Mack mentioned that a P.F. Chang’s restaurant is coming to the Stratford Road area in the southwestern part of the city. He asked that while parts of Winston-Salem are being developed, “where is the development of restaurants and malls in East Winston?”

Mack said that King labored. “And the question is, what are you going to do … to eradicate war, poverty and racism?”

The commemoration also featured The Twin City Choristers, an all male chorus established in 1957.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines led “A Special Litany of Commemoration” at the event. The litany, modeled after the official litany of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, was rewritten by Evans.

The Noon Hour Commemoration was established in 1981 after yearly attempts nationally to recognize King on his birthday continued to fail. The commemoration continued after the first national King holiday was held in 1986. Organizers say it is the longest on-going MLK Jr. observance in North Carolina.

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Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers

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