'Continue the Dream': Residents March to Keep King's Hope Alive
More than 100 marchers turned out Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in a parade through Southern Pines to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader.
The annual event, sponsored by the West Southern Pines Civic Club, began on Broad Street at the corner of New York Avenue, proceeded down Pennsylvania Avenue and ended at Southern Pines Primary School.
As they marched around downtown, participants chanted, “Forward ever, backward never,” and carried signs saying, “Continue the Dream” and “Keep the Movement Alive.” Others carried large posters of Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned 83 on Jan. 15 if he had not been assassinated in April 1968.
After the parade, many participants attended a program in H.A. Wilson Auditorium at Southern Pines Primary School, hosted by the Moore County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The organization’s youth branch put on the program with the theme of “Martin Luther King Jr., Friends and Enemies.”
The program recognized the achievements of King and other prominent leaders of the civil rights era, while also discussing the individuals who sought to put down the movement.
Also recognized were prominent African-Americans who have gone on to make significant contributions at the local, state and national level in pursuit of the ideals envisioned in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
As she welcomed the audience to the program, Moore County NAACP President O’Linda Gillis reminded all that the legacy of King and others who marched with him in the civil rights movement lives on because generations since have carried it forward.
“The bullet killed the man,” Gillis said, “but not the dream.”
Gillis emphasized that active participation in local government and voting instills a broader sense of civic responsibility that is necessary to strengthen the culture of equality that King championed.
During the program, Pastor Darrell Harris, of Endtime Harvest and Deliverance Ministries in Carthage, said that while Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates the many advances and sacrifices of the civil rights movement, the struggle to realize King’s dream continues in a world that remains full of racism, hatred and injustice.
“Many have said that the struggle is over,” Harris said. “If that’s to be true, I must have missed the great awakening.”
Harris challenged members of the audience to “rebuild the bridge of faith” by putting aside their differences and coming together, regardless of race, color, creed or socioeconomic background, to contribute as members of the same community.
“If we as the community will embrace unity and conduct ourselves in dignity and discipline, nothing will be able to turn us around,” he said. “I challenge every community to redefine what the community is made of. ... We are a vision of Dr. King’s dream. We must carry the mantle of freedom. We can make a change, and we will make a change.”
The parade and program were part of several local events honoring King. On Friday, Dr. Joshua Haire spoke at Sandhills Community College’s observance of the holiday during a program in Owens Auditorium.
West Southern Pines Citizens for Change also celebrated with a day of service, collecting food items to donate to BackPack Pals, and Purcell Funeral Home hosted a community fish fry.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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