‘Don’t let the dream die’

Nearly 300 march in Dr. King celebration

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photos: Set 1Set 2
* Video – RSHS Gospel Choir
* MLK Gala honors ‘Daddy the carpenter’
Changes for 2015 events
Rev. Tommy Legrand’s bio

ROCKINGHAM — Black lives matter.

And it’s up to black people, Rev. Tommy Legrand and others said, to make sure they are counted.

Legrand and others noted that there are no black people who hold elected office on the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, the Hamlet City Council or the Rockingham City Council.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Aneema Owens and Andrew Streeter, both 6 and of Rockingham, carry a likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the 0.4 miles from First United Methodist Church to the old Richmond County courthouse on Saturday in downtown Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Aneema Owens and Andrew Streeter, both 6 and of Rockingham, carry a likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the 0.4 miles from First United Methodist Church to the old Richmond County courthouse on Saturday in downtown Rockingham.

“Who do we blame,” Legrand asked an audience of nearly 300 people, mostly African Americans, as he stood atop the steps of the old Richmond County courthouse. “We must look at ourselves and see how the dream died in my life.”

Legrand served as grand marshal for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March and Parade on Saturday in Rockingham. After a few days of seasonably cold weather as temperatures dipped into the low teens, the sun was out and the thermometer hit 46 degrees during the one-hour event.

As the bells enclosed with the nearby tower of First United Methodist Church, march participants started their first step from the staging area on East Washington Street towards Harrington Square and then completed the 0.4-mile distance on to Lee Street and Franklin Street to the courthouse lawn.

The parade was led by Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly in his patrol car, followed by the JROTC unit of Richmond Senior High School. The event banner, with the theme, “Awakening His Dream,” was carried by Hoffman Mayor Tommy Hart, Rep. Garland Pierce, Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. and Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Jeremy Watkins helps his 6-year-old daughter, Kamora, of Rockingham, get a better view of the speakers and singers from the Richmond Senior High School Gospel Choir.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Jeremy Watkins helps his 6-year-old daughter, Kamora, of Rockingham, get a better view of the speakers and singers from the Richmond Senior High School Gospel Choir.

After Legrand, driven in a silver luxury sedan by Dobbins Heights Councilman Tyre Holloway and his wife, walkers from Legrand’s Prayer and Faith Temple Church of God in Christ marched with a banner that read, “Don’t let the dream die!”

Other march participants included members of Philadelphia United Methodist Church in Rockingham, members of the 29th Masonic District of Richmond County, Mt. Zion United Church of Christ, in Rockingham, members of the Alpha Mu Chapter in Rockingham of the Alpha Pi Chi National Sorority, members of Providence Baptist Church, members of the Laurinburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, members of Ellerbe Grove Missionary Baptist Church, representatives of LAMP (Leadership and Mentoring Program) from Richmond Community College, residents within the Rockingham Housing Authority and the Rockingham Fire Department.

“There is power in numbers,” Legrand said. “We must not expect someone else to do for us when we can do for ourselves. Don’t let the dream die.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Parade and March was attended by people of all ages on Saturday in Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Parade and March was attended by people of all ages on Saturday in Rockingham.

The dream, of course, refers to King. King was America’s foremost civil rights leader who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. He was only 39 years old, but was concerned with the economic inequalities and disparities in the United States.

April Wall, of Rockingham, wanted to increase her daughter’s awareness to the plight of individuals’ seeking equality and justice. That’s why she brought 6-year-old Aneema Owens. Aneema and Andrew Streeter, also 6 and of Rockingham, carried a likeness of King throughout the march.

“I want them to understand the meaning of what Martin Luther King wants to do,” Wall said.

She believed King fought for social and economic justice — a fight she said crossed racial lines.

“He didn’t want us to be against each other,” Wall said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Members of Mt. Zion United Church of Christ marched in song.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Members of Mt. Zion United Church of Christ marched in song.

It was a message Linda Douglas, Register of Deeds for Richmond County, echoed from the podium. King’s dream, she said, needs to be kept alive “for the purpose of keepin’ his dream of equal opportunity for everyone.”

Kimberly Harrington, a member of the steering committee that coordinated the weekend-long series of events that kicked off Friday with the Gala and will end with Monday’s luncheon in Ellerbe, shouted a phrase — over and over again — that has been heard across America since Aug. 9, 2014, when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed  by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

“Black lives matter,” Harrington said. “Black lives matter.”

Harrington said people need to remember and respect that “black lives matter” whether the death comes from the bullet of a gun operated by a white police officer or anything else.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“We need to change our response,” Harrington said.

Change, she said, starts with each of us — with ourselves, with each family and with each community.

“We can only effect change from within,” Harrington said.

Pierce acknowledged that “no one life is greater than another life. We are all God’s children.”

King was on the scene of the civil rights movement for some 13 years, officials said. Hart said King’s untimely murder is no reason to stop the pursuit of what King envisioned.

“We must not give up now,” Hart said. “Yes, there are a lot of distractions … but in order to have victory, we have to keep marchin’ on.”

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said great leaders are measured in part by how they inspire others. King was a great leader, Morris noted, evident by the large gathering at the courthouse nearly 47 years after he was shot.

Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue referenced King’s march from Selma, Ala., to the capitol of Montgomery after four black girls were killed in a church bombing. The cit of Selma, he said, “was just like Ferguson.” People then “did have a vote or a voice.”

Then he turned the conversation towards what still needs to be done.

“None of us can say we have fully lived up to Dr. King’s vision,” Blue said. “Questions remain. Why is it so difficult to … live our Dr. King’s dream?”

Remaining schedule of events

* Saturday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. — Youth Extravaganza at Leak Street Educational and Cultural Center

* Sunday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. — Ecumenical Service at First United Methodist Church in Rockingham.

* Monday, Jan. 19 at noon — Luncheon at Sidney Grove Family Agape Center, 401 McIntyre Road, Ellerbe. Donations of $12 are requested to help cover event costs.

* Jan. 16 through Jan. 23 — Poster exhibits at Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham

 

 

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Hoffman, Latest Headlines, News, Religion, Rockingham

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