Three local faith leaders will speak in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, with three days of events culminating in the annual MLK March in Southern Pines.
The West Southern Pines Civic Club, Moore County NAACP, Faith Missionary Baptist Church, AKA Sorority, and the town of Southern Pines Parks and Recreation and Public Library have collectively organized the various events featuring presentations by the Rev. Dr. Paul Murphy, pastor of Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church; Rev. Debra Gray, pastor of Blacknall A.M.E. Zion Church in Sanford; and Rev. Demond Hairston, pastor of New Zion A.M.E. Zion Church in Robbins.
Co-organizer Kim Wade said it is important for the community to recognize King’s life and legacy to remind us of our history, “where we are now and where we want to go.”
“It holds us accountable to a standard Dr. King petitioned for humankind. It is a commitment and lifestyle and the holiday is an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments in his honor,” she said.
The weekend begins with the MLK breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m., at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church’s outreach center at 972 W. Pennsylvania Avenue. There is limited seating, tickets must be purchased in advance.
An interfaith Sunday worship service will be held Jan. 19, beginning at 5 p.m., at Southern Pines Primary School, sponsored by Faith Missionary Baptist Church with special guests Rev. Murphy, Southern Pines Mayor Carol Haney, Mitch Capel, Bethesda Presbyterian Handbell Choir, and the Village Chapel Choir. The school auditorium is located at 1250 W. New York Ave. in Southern Pines.
The MLK March is scheduled on Monday, Jan. 20, beginning at Southern Pines Downtown Park and finishing at Southern Pines Primary School. Parade lineup at 10 a.m., at 145 SE Broad Street, and the march steps off promptly at 11 a.m.
Immediately following is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day service sponsored by the Moore County NAACP, featuring youth-led presentations at Southern Pines Primary School at 1250 W. New York Ave. in Southern Pines.
Wade said the events honor for the man who labored not only to find equality for all mankind, but “to show the oppressors the difference between equality and equity and why we need both.”
“Equality is giving everyone the same opportunity. Equity is customizing each situation according to the circumstances,” said Wade. “We are fortunate at a time of blatant division and differences to have a community of people who believe in starting the conversations. Instead of leadership deciding what is best, our community leaders are inviting everyone concerned and who are affected by their decisions to the table to express what is needed.”
In particular, she described 2019 in Southern Pines as “an astonishing breakthrough” with residents throughout the community reaching across the bridge to communicate and understand each other.
“The color of your skin does not define who you are. Your address does not indicate your moral values. Your income does not determine your intelligence. Your education does not stipulate your integrity,” Wade said. “When we see each other through the lens of color, class and credentials we limit our experience of greatness and growth: We never reach our full potential.”
She singled out the positive work enabled by former Southern Pines Mayor David McNeill to appoint a West Southern Pines Economic Development Task Force last year.
Thus far the group has initiated “ways and means” for area residents to increase their income by revisiting zoning ordinances to allow new home-based businesses, in addition to organizing a community-wide work day and improving appearance and beautification through more rigorous code enforcement.
Newly elected Mayor Carol Haney also coordinated efforts to appoint two African-American residents to positions on the Southern Pines Planning Board and Library Advisory Board.
In addition, Wade noted that parishioners from Brownson Memorial and Trinity AME Zion Churches traveled together to visit the The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
“These are servants of God removing the color barrier brick by brick,” she said.
Also in 2019, members of the Weymouth Arts and Humanities, Moore County NAACP and several community- based organizations met in fellowship at Pool Park in Southern Pines for a neighborly potluck cookout.
“These types of events happened throughout 2019 and many more are scheduled for 2020. This is the dream Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. crusaded and lost his life for. “