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The Wiregrass Celebrates the Life of Martin Luther King Jr.

By: Deborah Tuff Email
By: Deborah Tuff Email

Hundreds in Dothan turned out to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a ceremony held Monday.

However, many believe King's dream is falling through the cracks.

Do community residents truly feel that King's dream is still alive?

It’s a question most asked and many say 'no', but still say his efforts haven't gone ignored.

Remembering a Legend
Holding banners, and armed with walking gear, hundreds made their way around Dothan to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Now, nearly 40 years after his assassination on top of a Memphis, Tennessee balcony, some say King, who'd be 78, would not be pleased.

"Dr. King would be upset, as I am. Because our young people are our future and [we] see them listening to the music they do, wearing the clothes they are; this is not what Dr. King was talking about," says Benny Griffin with the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance & Leadership Coalition.

It is believed that today’s music glorifies degrading women and a negative means to an end.

King wanted equality, professionalism, and he wanted rights for all, but many say it seems his dream is being pushed out the window.

High school drop out rates among African Americans are up, along with crime and teenage pregnancy.

However, on the other hand, there is an increase in black home ownership.

In a ceremony held Monday, keynote speaker and state NAACP President Edward Vaughn challenged the audience of about 700 to keep King's dream alive and take it off of life support.

He says in order to keep the dream alive, there has to be an effort to overcome surrounding circumstances.

"We can pay more attention to our young people and their needs and the educational system," said Dothan March Organizer Glennie Wiggins, and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance & Leadership Coalition.

"We've got to get together as a people as a group of people. You can't lead if you can't follow and you can't follow if you don't have anyone to lead," Griffin said.

And, in Monday's ceremony, service attendees tried to do just that, by beginning the New Year with a new hope and a new appreciation for freedom as they joined hands and sang in unison "We shall overcome".

Dr. King wanted to attend Dothan during the civil rights movement.

However, locals say leaders during that time prevented his trip from happening.

This is the first year King's widow Coretta was not around to memorialize her husband.

She's buried next to him at the King Museum in Atlanta.

Other Local Commemorations
Other Wiregrass cities joined the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations with their annual marches.

Ozark's march kicked off Monday morning at 10:30AM.

About 150 people showed up for the annual event, marching from the Dale County Courthouse to the Ozark Civic Center.

Local performers showcased their talents and Ozark Native, Sue Hunt of Troy University, Dothan, and Dr. C.P. Noble, pastor of Greater Saint Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Tuskegee, gave an inspirational speech of making and achieving goals.

Meanwhile in New Brockton, prior to integration, African American children in central Coffee County attended class at Warren Smith School in New Brockton.

Monday, the campus of the old school is the site of a youth program dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Students and youth choirs led a march through downtown.

Enterprise City School District's Oveta Pearce was the keynote speaker at Monday’s ceremony.

Also, over in Abbeville, this was the third year the People’s Organization in Abbeville has held their Martin Luther King Tribute, marching from Mary Magdalene Baptist Church to the Henry County Courthouse.

With about 50 people in attendance, this marked the largest crowd for Abbeville's Tribute March.

"I think we owe this to Dr. Martin Luther King. He's done so many good things for the black people," said Charles Grimes, president of the People's Organization.

At the end of the march, Grimes was given a plaque for his contribution to African American rights.

Grimes helped establish the People’s Organization in Abbeville and is the minister of Saint Peter Baptist Church.


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