By Rebecca Croomes
To celebrate the birth of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders, community groups will march on the Square Monday, Jan. 21.
The local NAACP chapter and the Lincoln Bridgeforth Park Committee have a morning of events planned to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
“Dr. King had a dream and we’re still celebrating his dream,” said David Malone, Lincoln Bridgeforth Park Committee board member. “We’re hoping to inspire someone to fulfill their dream.”
Festivities will commence at 8:50 a.m., when marchers will gather on the south side of the courthouse to pray. From there they will march around downtown, making their way to the Athens Event Center on Pryor Street, across from the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives.
“We have a fairly decent turnout,” NAACP President Benard Simelton said. “It’s growing.”
Simelton said this march is simply commemorative of the marches King made during his lifetime and is not designed as a protest. The group will sing traditional songs and chants of the time as they go.
“To honor him is the least we can do,” Simelton said. “In addition you learn something.”
After the march, the community is invited to the event center where the winners of the NAACP’s MLK Day essay contest will read their works, and the park committee will present the Dr. C. Eric Lincoln Humanitarian Award, which Malone said is given to a local person. There will also be a performance by the Round Island Creek Missionary Baptist Association Male Chorus. The park committee will host Judge Emma Woodruff as guest speaker.
Simelton said he looks forward to listening to the contest winners, students from across the county who wrote on a theme about citizenship.
“It’s always interesting to hear their thoughts,” Simelton said. “We want to learn about what they’re thinking, what’s on their minds. We’re really looking forward to what they have to say about that theme.”