As cities across the metro Atlanta area and the U.S. did, starting last week, East Point and McDonough hosted events celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Ph.D.
The MLK Holiday Commission held its annual MLK Ecumenical Worship Celebration Jan. 14 at New Grant Chapel AME Church in East Point.
Its 100 attendees included elected officials from Fulton County, College Park, East Point, Fairburn and South Fulton.
The program included music, dance, prayer and speeches.
Commission member and speaker Credric Terrell quoted the New Testament in advising attendees to consider King’s effect on daily life today.
“As Jesus said in Luke 22:19, ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’” Terrell said. “I can hear Martin today saying, ‘Do this in remembrance of me. When you sit at the lunch counter, do this in remembrance of me. When you sit at the front of the bus, do this in remembrance of me. When you go to a hotel and check in, do this in remembrance of me. When you drink from a water fountain, do this in remembrance of me. When you go to the department store just to try on clothes, do this in remembrance of me.’ When you go to the ballot box and cast your vote, knowing that the generation that trail blazed the way before us made it possible for us to go to the ballot box and cast our votes without fear, without threats, I can hear Martin saying, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’”
Greetings included words from East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham, Fairburn Mayor Elizabeth Carr-Hurst, South Fulton City Councilwoman Helen Z. Willis and Fulton County Chair Robb Pitts.
Erica Clemmons, director of working women’s justice organization 9to5 Georgia, issued a call to action.
“Today, we know we are under attack and it’s up to each one of us in this room to come together, rise up and defend our values,” she said. “The blood, sweat and tears of countless black and brown bodies since America’s founding, even until today, have paid for our freedom. Fifty years ago this year, our freedom was paid for by an assassin’s bullet when Dr. King lost his life because of his dream. Do not let the lives and dreams of our ancestors be in vain, because we are the dreams of our ancestors. Leave here today charged to take action and harness our collective freedom. Make the calls, knock on the doors, boycott the products and organize our communities.”
The Rev. Minnie Tigner Robinson, formerly of East Point First Mallalieu United Methodist Church, based her sermon on Scripture from Acts 16:9-10, about Paul’s vision of a man who asked for help for Macedonia, where the apostle then went.
It became the core of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written in response to a letter of chastisement from eight Alabama clergymen.
“Dr. King stated in that letter that, ‘just as the apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the Gospel of Jesus, crying to the four corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own hometown.’ Dr. King said, ‘like Paul, I must respond to the Macedonian call’ for me,” Robinson said. “Do what God has called you to do.”
The Henry County branch of the NAACP hosted a weekend of events honoring the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Its prayer breakfast was Jan. 13.
Its parade and peace march through the McDonough Square was Jan. 15, starting from the Henry County Performing Arts Center in McDonough.
A program followed at the arts center, with music, dance, readings and speeches.
Readers paid tribute to civil rights leaders like King, Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and President Barack Obama.
Its 250 attendees included Henry County, McDonough and Stockbridge elected officials.
Guest speaker Georgia NAACP criminal justice committee chair Gerald A. Griggs read from King’s last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”
Griggs said he brought a message from the Georgia association’s president, Phyllis Blake, encouraging attendees to get involved.
“We are in the business of calling out. We are in the business of speaking truth to power and we are in the business of shutting things down. For 108 years, we have always been standing in the gap, calling it out, whether it’s lynchings in the South or the prison industrial complex, whether it’s segregation or re-segregation, whether it’s white power or ‘Make America Great Again,’” Griggs said. “The message I bring you today is not a message that looks backward. It’s a message that looks forward. Because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Dr. King was a giant. Dr. King is a giant. But what he’s expecting is for me and you to protect the future of the babies.”
To do that, Griggs asked his listeners to join the local branch.
“I love the Henry County chapter of the NAACP because they looked forward when they took on Nash Farm. The NAACP was looking forward when we, two years ago, said, ‘Take the monuments down.’ And the NAACP was forward-looking when we supported one Colin Kaepernick when he decided to take a knee on the NFL,” he said. “Where is the NAACP going? We’re going the same place we’ve been going for 108 years. We’re going towards freedom and we want you all to join us.”
From left, McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland, Stockbridge Mayor Anthony S. Ford and Hampton Mayor Steve Hutchison prepare to ride in the Henry Co…
Branch first vice president Vivian A. Thomas said their work is not just talk, but action.
“We take the time to listen to your phone calls when you need our assistance. We’re there; we answer those phone calls,” she said. “We’re there with you to support you throughout your efforts to make sure your rights are protected, that you have the opportunity to put forth your case and have those opportunities to say, ‘A mistake doesn’t mean total failure.’
Thomas said members do not have to be Henry County residents to join.
“You can join any unit of NAACP you choose,” she said. “You can live in DeKalb County and join the Atlanta branch. You can live in Atlanta and join the Chicago branch. It doesn’t matter. We just want you to join, and join the fight.”
The branch meets second Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at Mount Olive Baptist Church, 469 Mount Olive Road, Stockbridge.
Its Freedom Fund Gala celebrating 75 years of community service is March 17 at the Shiloh Baptist Church family life center, 262 Macon St., McDonough. Tickets are $75 through March 10.