King honored with annual event

Published 8:49 pm Monday, January 16, 2017

The life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was honored Monday with speeches, worship music, awards to community organizations and student essay contest winners, and more.

The annual Suffolk City-Wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration is put on by a committee. This year’s installment was at New Mt. Joy Food for Living Ministries on County Street.

Bishop B. Courtney McBath of Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk was the keynote speaker. He preached from Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

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He urged churches and individuals to do more to support their neighbors.

Bishop B. Courtney McBath was the keynote speaker at Monday’s Suffolk City-Wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration.

Bishop B. Courtney McBath was the keynote speaker at Monday’s Suffolk City-Wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration.

“Every need that we have in our communities could be met with us,” he said.

With the inauguration of a new president less than a week away, he also veered into the political realm.

“The past 18 months have seemed more like a reality TV show than a national election,” he said. “As a black man, I understand the feeling of being ignored, misunderstood and feeling like you don’t exist. This is a topic I am qualified to speak on.”

But he called upon those present to recognize that with pain comes power.

“We have not let the God of our purpose show us that along with our pain comes our power,” he said. “There’s already a pain inside us. We will not let our pain stop us from using our power.”

The event also featured a presentation of the community service award to Ronald Hart of the Metropolitan Federal Credit Union.

“It’s never been about me,” said Hart, who learned the business from and took it over from his father. “It’s about honoring the legacy of how it was founded and why it was founded.”

The credit union was started to serve minorities who were being ignored by the system or “abused with high interest rates,” Hart said. It started with less than $1,000 in assets and now has a net worth more than $8 million.

“None of this could have been done without the efforts of many, many people,” Hart said. “I am proud of the work of my staff. I am proud of the work of my board. It has served the community well.”

The I Have a Dream Award also was presented to the Horton Wreath Society, which raises money each year to place an evergreen wreath at each gravesite at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk.

In addition, three local students were awarded for placing in the Martin Luther King Essay Contest. They were Danielle Douglas of Nansemond River High School, Jamauri Demiel of King’s Fork Middle School, and Jade Mobley of Nansemond River High School.