• 64°

King’s morals celebrated

It was part revival. It was part history lesson. It was part invocation. But, all together, it was a celebration.

With well over 200 in attendance at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, Monday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration brought together all ages, all races and all denominations. This marked the first such event hosted by the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council.

“I am extremely proud of the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council for organizing this event and proud to have been a small part of it,” Suffolk Mayor Linda Johnson said in her remarks. “Sometimes people laugh when I say I am a product of the ’60s. But it is for people like Dr. King, President Kennedy and others that make me proud to have been a child of the ’60s.”

But, Monday’s event was not simply to remember the man – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – but to celebrate the morals and characteristics that helped shape the Civil Rights leader’s life.

“He stood up against a world that wanted to shoot him down,” event moderator Kenny Rice said. “That’s what made Dr. King so special. You cannot worry about what people say about you.”

In detailing his beliefs in building character, community service and non-violence, the event’s speakers worked to challenge the youth in attendance, hoping to shape their lives for the better.

“Dr. King’s character spoke more of him than any person ever could,” South Hill First Baptist Church minister Jason Knight said. “You must worry about what people see in you – in your actions – than what people say about you.

“From a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala., Dr. King knew his fight for justice was worth being in a jail cell.”

Domenick Epps, with the New Life Community Church, brought to the front each child in attendance and challenged them to live up to the pledges they make.

“It is easy to say no to violence. It is easy to say no to drugs. It is up to you to let your actions live up to what you say,” Epps said to the children.

Near the end of Monday’s event, Rice again brought the children forward and led them in a non-violence pledge that detailed reconciliation, respect and responsibility.

“Dr. King did not teach violence, so as we leave this place today let us remember what we are to do outside of these four walls,” Knight said, leading the group in the pledge. “I pledge to follow, uphold and maintain these principles for the betterment of our communities.”