First Zion/Bethesda Outreach and LaGrange Optimist club held separate ceremonies to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
The 12th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration took place at 10 a.m. at the Saint James CME Church in LaGrange. Sister Angela Smith was the Mistress of Ceremony which included prayer, song, dance, scripture reading and guest speakers.
Bertha Hodges, pastor of O.H. Ministries Inc., reviewed King’s life, contributions and teachings.
“His teachings show that violence is not the the way. It is to love your enemy, in spite of their faults, that your enemy will be made your footstool,” Hodges said. “We are all different, but we are all somebody.”
Community leaders were given certificates and plagues in recognition of their community service. LaGrange City Council members Willie Edmondson and Norma Tucker were among the individuals who accepted awards. Area church leaders also were recognized for their service to their congregations and communities.
Highlights of the celebration included musical numbers by the True Worship Baptist Youth Choir, Final Breakthrough Praise Ministry from Newnan, The McKay Brothers from Woodbury, the Rev. J. Copeland, TRU Essence/Teens ‘R’ Us Club and Tolanda Thomas from Georgia Mass Choir in Atlanta. The audience joined together to sing the closing song, “We Shall Overcome.”
After the formal program, everyone was invited to share in a complete celebratory dinner which was provided by Jake Sessions’ “Up All Night” program and was managed by Jimmy Edwards.
The LaGrange Optimist club celebrated Dr. King’s birthday with a luncheon followed by remarks by their guest speaker, Oliver Greene. Greene was asked to speak to the club by Hawley Smith, the club’s only remaining charter member, who also introduced Greene.
Greene, a longtime local educator, first met King in New York City when Greene was attending Columbia University. Greene shared some of King’s dreams and nonviolence views with the group.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a dreamer. He visualized when the world would be free from hate, bias, war, poverty, discrimination and fear,” Greene said.
Greene said that King was a great leader, a person whom others would follow.
“Using the nonviolence approach to the solution of problems, he provided opportunities for people from all walks of life to recognize that man does not live by the sword but by the spirit of a living God,” Greene said.
Vaughn Yardrough, Optimist club lieutenant governor for Georgia District 9, concluded the program by thanking Greene for his presentation and his wife, Annie Greene, and Traci Jones, the Greenes’ neice and daughter of recently deceased community volunteer Ida Jones, for attending the meeting. Yarbrough offered the concluding remarks for the special day.
“A lot of things are closed today, but our hearts are open to the teachings and love of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Yardrough said.