The Valdosta Daily Times
With financial institutions and school campuses closed for the federal holiday day, hundreds packed the Mathis City Auditorium Monday morning in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy on his birthday.
The ceremony kicked-off with a fiery welcome from Audriana Moore who called for higher standards among our community's youth, singling out African-Americans in particular. “Be the child who solves problems rather the problem child and dress how you want to be addressed,” she stated over rising applause.
“I challenge you today, to not be a part of the 23.8 percent of juvenile arrests in Lowndes County,” said Moore. “I challenge you today, to not be a part of the national statistic that states three out of ten students will not graduate high school. I challenge you to be a part of the top ten percent in your classroom. I challenge you not to be a victim of your surrounding, but a victor of your surroundings so you can show someone else the way.”
After a musical selection, keynote speaker Brandon McCrae put the day in perspective as he accessed the country's progress in race relations.
“We as a country have made monumental strides towards racial equality, but we as a people and, most importantly, as a country have still fallen short of Dr. Kings' dream,” said McCrae before later stating, “Every great black movement was started at, in or around the church.”
Over 100 youth took part in the Valdosta-Lowndes County Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee's 28th annual program, according to committee chair Carolyn Haigler.
“We get great support from our community, our children look forward to this event each year and we know that our community is impacted in a positive way,” Haigler stated.
“We want the community to remember Dr. King and understand that his dream forever lives,” said Haigler. “We want to instill in our young people that Dr. King lived and died for so much that they receive today. And in that spirit, we have begun to incorporate service projects for children as well as adults, because we know that service was also a big part of his dream.”
The committee’s first youth service project kicked off Monday
morning at the auditorium as children collected canned goods and other non-perishable goods for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Valdosta, according to Haigler, who stated that the organization had coordinated several adult projects in the past. She said the organization’s biggest service projects have consisted of home construction through Habitat for Humanity.
The Valdosta/Lowndes County Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee was organized during the winter of 1985 for the purpose of providing commemorative services for the slain “drum major,” of human rights, and to perpetuate his philosophy of brotherly love, according to a release from the organization.
Next up for the committee is the observance of Dr. King's death on April 4 at St. Paul’s AME church, according to Haigler. To find out more, contact the church via e-mail at StPaulGa@aol.com or by phone at 229-244-8065.