Monday, January 19, 2009

Random Notes From MLK Day Event

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/19/2009 No comments
I'd like to think I did my part to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is one of the most important holidays we have in this country, but far too many of us treat it as just another day off from work--those of us who are lucky enough to get the day off (I made a pledge to myself a couple of years ago that if I had a job that didn't give MLK Day off, I would use a vacation day).

I'm not trying to sound like an old man here, but I think a lot of young people today view Dr. King as just a figure in history books. He died several years before I was born, but I've always had an affinity for what he represented. If it wasn't for him, and countless others who stood with him, not only would we not be witnessing Barack Obama be inaugurated as president tomorrow, but the United States would not currently be the leader of the free world. How would this country be able to speak of any injustice today, whether it be in Iraq, Israel, or Darfur, if it still prevented a segment of its population from voting, using certain entrances, attending adequate schools, getting home loans, moving into certain neighborhoods, and then turned dogs, fire hoses, and police on them when they rallied against this?

We've moved beyond those dark days, thankfully. But we have to keep in mind that this was all just a little more than 40 years ago, which means that plenty of people are living now who experienced and contributed to this, both the oppressors and those who were oppressed. Change--and the results of change--take time. Celebrations like the one I attended today aren't about dwelling on the past, but are intended to inspire current and future generations to show them how people can overcome any odds and that the freedoms we enjoy in this country shouldn't be taken for granted, no matter what race you are. That's why I took a group of teenagers with me to the City of Charlotte Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday Celebration, held this morning at McGlohon Theatre.

This is an annual event that honors the achievements of Charlotteans who epitomize Dr. King's dream. I thought the kids I took would have fought me on the idea of going because I just knew they would've preferred to sleep in during this day off from school. They complied though, and I think it helped that I didn't fully tell them where we were going. I can't say this event was exciting, because it certainly had its dry moments, but I'm glad I went because it's good to see people come together for a positive cause. Here are the event's highlights:

  • Cherise B. Johnson did a great job emceeing the event. She was way more interesting than the other speakers.
  • Eric Watson, a VP at Food Lion, one of the event's sponsors, ended his remarks with a funny story about a bird getting pooped on by a bull, then getting eaten by a cat when it complained. It made sense and had a great lesson in it, but I would only butcher it if I tried to repeat it.
  • Eight students from grades K-12 were honored for winning the MLK essay and art contests. They were each awarded scholarship checks.
  • The MLK Medallion Award was given to three outstanding community leaders who passed away last year: Barbara Brewton Cameron, Stephanie Jennings, and Valerie Woodard. Each of their husbands accepted the awards on their behalf.
  • Eighteen-year-old NASCAR driver Marc Davis was given the MLK Keeper of the Dream Award. He's currently the only African-American driver competing in any of NASCAR's top three series. He races mostly in the Truck Series and Nationwide Series, but he's scheduled to make his Sprint Cup debut in June (Sprint Cup is the big league in case you didn't know).
  • The event concluded with a performance by the Leap of Faith Dance Company.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails