OKOLONA – The focus of Monday’s Martin Luther King Day celebration was service to the community and nation.
“Greatness comes from a willingness to serve,” said Rev. Dr. Clementine Mays, keynote speaker at this year’s celebration. “Sometimes you have to stand up and do it by yourself and sometimes you have to be willing to serve to the point of death.
“Dr. King did both of those and we need to follow his example,” she added. “Not only that but God requires us to love and serve all people.”
Mays words were given to a packed Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church in Okolona. Mays is pastor of Poplar Springs CME Church and said King’s legacy lives on.
“This day is not just about Black people and African Americans,” said Mays. “When Dr. Martin Luther King started his journey he did it for poor white people, the elderly, Hispanics, Chinese and for African Americans.
“His quote still stands: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” she said. “If we see someone who is cold, we need to give them a blanket; if we offend someone, we need to say I’m sorry; if we see someone who is denied a right, we need to stand with them; if we see someone down in the depths, we need to do what we can to pull them up.”
The theme of this year’s celebration was “A man after God’s own heart.”
Mays said the theme should speak to all who want to help make the world an equal place for all.
“Hate starts in the heart. Love starts in the heart,” said Mays. “We need to humble our hearts and kneel before God. Then we can continue the struggle and make our world, our town, our county a better place.”
Monday’s service opened with a welcome by Tayasia Gunn, Miss National Council for Negro Women. Houston City Attorney Gene Barton welcomed city officials and Bro. Jon Marley offered the opening scripture and prayer.
A presentation by Kwanza Boone and Baby Steps Boys was followed by poetry by Alexis Wilburn and DeArieus Brown. Sister Courtney Darden sang a solo.
The portion of the program spotlighting youth saw the Red Bud Drama Team give a presentation. Taylor Babbitt, Ty’ Amber, TaMyah and TaKieya Townsend then recited “Why Did You Make Me Black?” Dan Judd gave two interpretive readings of his own creation.
Ida Brand, of NCNW, introduced Mays. This was followed by a song by Naomi Bailey and Walter Cunningham played the saxophone.
NCNW First Vice President, Juanita Head, urged the community to join the local NCNW chapter and said they are seeking to enroll 100 members.
NCNW President Mary L. Gates gave closing remarks and thanked all who had a part on the program.
“I am so pleased to be here today to celebrate and remember Rev. Martin Luther King,” said Gates. “All we want to accomplish starts at home. Martin Luther King left us a legacy for generations yet to come. We need to never forget that one day, ‘we shall overcome.’”
Monday’s services were followed by brunch in the church fellowship hall.