In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two local services were held on Monday to honor the legacy of iconic Civil Rights leader on the 50 years after his assassination.
Local pastors, elected officials and community leaders gathered at Source of Light ministries in Madison for the annual Martin Luther King. Jr. (MLK) breakfast, followed by a service to honor his memory and press forward toward a future of human equality and justice. Both events were orchestrated by the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP.
Local pastors, civic leaders, and community leaders spoke Monday morning, hoping to inspire the crowd to carry on MLK’s dream.
The keynote speaker, Reverend Hoke Smith, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Madison, urged the crowd to live in accordance to the Christian faith and participate in creating a more just, equal and fair world for everyone.
“I hope we don’t ever lose the passion he had to drive us toward a perfect union of humanity,” said Smith.
“But I am concerned about the direction we are traveling in terms of our plight and the dream of MLK,” warned Smith. Smith urged the crowd to look beyond superficial differences of race in order to achieve unity.
“It’s not about black and it’s about white. That’s the disconnection of unity. But God is no respecter of persons,” said Smith.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman also addressed the crowd Monday morning, thanking the NAACP for their tireless work to carry on Dr. King’s dream of justice and equality.
“Madison has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” said Perriman. “We are thankful for where we are…One Morgan, which includes everyone here in the county, means that in Morgan County, together we stand strong. If we are separated, we become weak. The stronger we are together the higher we can go together…We come together with one thing in mind: how to make things better for our county, our community and our people.”
Ron Milton, chairman of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) also spoke at Monday’s breakfast.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years that [MLK] has been gone. But his work is still going on and there are a lot of things we can do right here in Morgan County,” said Milton. The City of Madison and Morgan County need to work together to make this a better place for all our citizens.”
The legacy of MLK was not the only legacy remembered Monday, as leaders paid homage to the late Laura Butler, former president of the Morgan County Branch for the NAACP, for her decades of service working to uplift the people of Morgan County and advocating for racial equality.
Madison City Councilman Joe DiLetto praised Butler through tears for her work and friendship to him over the years.
“I am going to have a hard time getting through this,” said DiLetto. “You have no idea what that woman meant to me. She raised me up, kept me focused, she meant so much to me and I miss her. She did more for this community than any of you can realize and we worked together to do many good things.”
On Monday evening, Mount Zion Baptist Church hosted the annual religious service to honor the work of MLK, featuring the keynote speaker, Jesse Roundtree, pastor of Thankful Baptist Church. The service featured songs from the choir, scripture reading and a riveting message inspired by the work of Dr. King and the work left to do to help change the world to match Dr. King’s infamous dream of justice and equality.