The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were lauded in a commemorative ceremony at Meridian Community College on Wednesday on what would have been the slain civil rights leader’s 91st birthday.
“Wherever people fight to be free, Dr. King’s name is remembered with dignity,” said Meridian High School Principal Victor Deshon Hubbard.
Hubbard was the keynote speaker at MCC’s The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration held in McCain Theater in Ivy Hall with campus and community residents in attendance. The theme of the program was “The Reemergence of Hope.”
Hubbard recounted the lasting impact Dr. King had on the nation through his non-violent quest to end racial discrimination and ensure all Americans were granted basic civil rights.
“Thank you Dr. King for taking a stand and for fighting injustice all throughout the land,” Hubbard said. “We appreciate you for implementing your non-violent plan seeking equality for every man, woman, boy and girl. Change has come and it has benefitted many.
“The challenge still remains to leave out none,” he added. “The struggle continues to make it clear that everyone’s rights and everyone’s freedoms are dear …. May we never forget to honor your dream and seek those ideas no matter how hard it may seem. We look to your example in leading the way to a brighter future.”
In welcoming attendees to the celebration, MCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner recalled a quote from Dr. King in his 1965 speech in Selma, Ala. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is true.”
Just like Dr. King, when a person has the chance to make a difference then he should, Huebner said. “I pray that today’s celebration reminds you to stand up for what is right, just, and true.”
Jamila Brown Coleman, chairperson of the MLK Commemorative Committee, said it is important for the college to remember the civil rights worker because he devoted his life to equality, justice and non-violence.
“Even today, decades after his death, Dr. King continues to inspire those around the world who are struggling for human rights and human dignity in the face of oppression, discrimination and injustice,” she said. “Dr. King should be remembered because his was an important voice in America. He should be remembered for his activism and preachings against discrimination and in favor of justice and the advantages of diversity. These are more relevant today than ever.”
During the event, three MCC students were each presented with a $1,000 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award funded through the college’s Charles L. Young Sr. Foundation. Receiving this year’s scholarships were Albrie Harper, a 2018 graduate of Meridian High School who is pursuing a degree in elementary education; Devaunte Richarson, a 2012 graduate of Vicksburg High School who is enrolled in the college’s physical therapy assistant program; and Shelby Mitchell, a 2019 graduate of West Lauderdale High School who is also pursuing a degree in elementary education.
Retired educator Marjorie Alexander, a native of DeKalb, was honored as this year’s recipient of the Billy C. Beal Award for her contributions and dedication to making the community a better place.
Three local students were recognized for their top places in a creative project contest sponsored by the MLK Commemorative Committee. Students could submit an essay, artwork, or original poem that went along with this year’s theme. The students presented their projects during the celebration. Morgan Sloan, an eighth grade student at Carver Middle School, won the $75 first place prize for her original poem, “Don’t Give Up Hope.” Elisa Cook, an eighth grader at Clarkdale Attendance Center, won the $50 second place prize for her original artwork titled “Reemergence of Hope.” Carver eighth grader Isaiah Ott won the $25 third place prize for his original poem, “King’s Hope Filled Dream.”