MLK celebration going virtual

Published 9:48 am Thursday, December 31, 2020

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By Alice Brown

For the Enterprise

Plans are being made for one of the most important events on the local NAACP calendar.

The design of the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration program on Jan. 18 will be virtual with a keynote speaker and special music. Sponsorships and donations are welcomed.

Each chapter of the NAACP has state and national assessments which are used to finance work in support of justice issues. In addition, local obligations such as fees for speakers, the Back2School Event, the scholarship fund and donations to needy families are ongoing.

Monies to support these causes are usually raised at the Annual Freedom Fund Banquet in October, but because of the shutdown, a virtual program replaced it. The Rev. Dr. Marion Franks, pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church and a professor at N.C. A&T State University gave the keynote address.

Franks spoke on Unity and Love; his text was Psalm 133:1. Using visual illustrations, the points he made were: unity can be beautiful but it must be sought and it requires agreement.

He closed his conversation by sharing that black people must unify and vote in the upcoming election.  He told the story of Benjamin Tillman who said: “If we had our say, the Negro could never vote. I believe that God made the white man out of better clay than that which the Negro was made from” and backed those words up by lynching blacks and creating poll taxes and poll tests.

Franks said that for every eligible black voter who does not vote, you are making Benjamin Tillman to be right.                                                               

Jenny Stevenson was the emcee. Music was provided by Alfred Mason, Chad Dalton and sisters Jada and   Morgan Rice.

Other participants in the October program were President Joe B. Clark, Justice Fulton and Ava Gary.  Azalee Stockton, chair  of the program committee, expresses thanks to the participants and to those who contributed financially to make it a success.

• Also in October, in spite of the coronavirus, a group of concerned citizens gathered for a prayer vigil organized by members of the local chapter of the NAACP.

Mocksville Mayor Will Marklin welcomed the attendees to the town park, which was the perfect setting, for the Sunday afternoon event. It was videotaped by Jenny Stevenson for public viewing.

NAACP President the Rev. Joe B. Clark introduced the program and shared history of the organization by an interracial group in 1909 to advocate for equality. He referenced the constitution and equal rights. Further information can be found at Prayers for unity, love and peace were offered by the Rev. Coker Stewart, Pastor Fred Terry and Carole Demmy.

Jason Ijames made introductions as a transition was made to the second half of the program.

Stylish cheerleaders – Sherri Jeffries, Eleanor Brown and Telesia Dubose  – energized the group as young women from New Jerusalem Apostolic Church used signs to illustrate the theme: Unity, Love and Peace.

Alice Brown began the Get-Out-The-Vote challenge for the November election by naming some legendary ministers who were leaders in the civil rights movement in the 60s.  She gave out voter information saying it was our time to make our voices heard.

Apostle Nettye I. Barber, chair of the religious affairs committee, expressed thanks to everyone for coming and to the program participants in particular.  Among her remarks, she included the words of the late John Lewis: “The vote is precious and the most powerful non-violent tool we have.”

In the sending-forth, the Rev. David Singletary spoke about what Peter, Titus and Malachi said about rights and responsibilities. He, also, spoke about the commandments in Matthew to love God and neighbor; he urged the listeners to use prayer, action and to vote.