Athens to honor King’s legacy with community celebrations and student projects

By  | January 10, 2018 | Filed under: News

ATHENS-Athens and Limestone County will involve students and the community to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy for the annual holiday.


Each year, organizers host a march, student essay contest and celebrations on the observed holiday, which is Jan. 15 this year.


In addition, the Athens-Limestone Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration Committee is hosting a service project on Jan. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Family Resource Center. The center is in need fresh interior paint, and volunteers can meet at the center at 406 S. Jefferson Street on Jan. 13 to work together to help improve the center.


Those interested in volunteering can call the center at 256-230-0880.


The community can join in celebrating King’s legacy by attending two events on Jan. 15. The Celebration Committee will host its annual march at 9 a.m. on the west side of the Limestone County Courthouse. Line-up starts at 8:45 a.m. Marchers will go to the Limestone County Event Center for a program that includes recognizing the winners of the student essay and art contests, which had the following themes:


  • Ages 6-12

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a historic speech titled “I have a Dream.” What was his dream for freedom and justice? What progress has been made toward the dream? What can you do to promote freedom and justice in your home, school and community?


  • Ages 13 – 15

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Why is it important for each individual to promote justice in order to advance the dream?


  • Ages 16 – 18

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter titled “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In this letter he said, “It is wrong to

Rev. Louis Malone

use immoral means to attain moral ends. It is just as wrong…to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” How does this quote relate to advancing the dream of freedom and justice in America?


The program will include songs, excerpts from King’s letter from the Birmingham jail and refreshments.


The Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Advisory Committee will host the community’s second event for Jan. 15. The 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration will be at 11 a.m. at the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church at 803 Westmoreland Ave.


The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Louis Malone, Trinity Class of 1968. Trinity School served as the county’s all-black high school until integration here in 1970. Malone is the pastor of the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Rockford, Ill., where he has been senior pastor for the last 35 years.


During the program, the committee will announce the recipients of the 2018 Jimmy W. Gill Youth Leadership Award and the Dr. C. Eric Lincoln Humanitarian Award. The late Jimmy W. Gill was a Trinity graduate, a member of the committee and a long-time Athens City Council member who died from cancer. The late C. Eric Lincoln was a Trinity graduate, author, theologian, ordained Methodist minister and a professor of religion at Duke University. His book “The Avenue, Clayton City” won the Lillian Smith Award for best Southern fiction in 1988.


Councilman Frank Travis, who serves on the committee, said as is tradition, the committee will keep the names of the award recipients secret until time for the presentations during the event.


“The only thing we can say about this year’s recipients is they are well known and well loved by the Athens community,” Travis said.


The Round Island Male Chorus will provide the musical selections, and the park committee will provide lunch following the program.

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