By Brian Livingston
The Meridian Community College Gospel Group had fingers snapping, heads bobbing and feet tapping Tuesday in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The choir, along with other musical groups and a lineup of speakers were gathered Tuesday afternoon at the McCain Theater on the MCC campus for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, a prelude to MLK Day coming up on Monday. The event was sponsored by the Martin Luther King Committee and the MCC faculty and staff.
MLK Essay winners Emma Clark, a sixth grade student at Clarkdale Attendance Center, and Shiolyn Brown, a seventh grade student at Carver Middle School, read their award winning essays to the crowd.
"I can see the work of Dr. King here in Meridian with such people as Fannie Johnson, who is the executive director of LOVES Kitchen," Clark said. "She has the same unselfish devotion to people as Dr. King."
Brown, who said she wants to help the homeless while teaching others to read, said her desire to serve others comes from King.
"I and all of us can live Dr. King's dream," Brown said.
Meridian Mayor Percy Bland was the featured speaker for the event. He noted King is only one of four people to be granted holidays in America, along with Jesus Christ, Columbus, and George Washington. Bland said it was because of King's life and legacy that such an honor was bestowed upon him.
"At the age of 35 Dr. King was presented the Noble Peace Prize," Bland said. "At the age of 39 he was killed. Dr. King is the only person in the last 200 years to be given a holiday the entire nation observes. That tells you something about his legacy."
Bland, who in July 2013 was the first African-American elected to the office of mayor in Meridian, gave some advice on this day to the students of MCC in the audience.
"You never know where you will end up in life," Bland said. "You never really know which roads you will need to take to get there. Embrace the journey."