Local church celebrates Martin Luther King Day

By Shane Hulsey

Monday was a day of remembrance, a day to inspire change, and a day to celebrate one of the great trailblazers in American history.

First Baptist Church of Quincy hosted the city’s 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Monday morning. The celebration’s theme, “MLK in Me,” inspired those in attendance to recognize that a piece of Martin Luther King exists within all of us.

Master of Ceremonies Rev. Otis Pleasant said even 50 years after King’s death, his message still resonates with the world today.

“Martin Luther King brought out some very good points about people’s content, people’s character, what they’re qualified to do, what they’re able to do, loving one another, getting along, treating people equally because we are all made in the image of God,” he said. “Therefore, we all have value.”

The Quincy chapter of the NAACP invited QU Black Student Union leaders Aloysius Cooper, Grace Neema and CJ Cunningham to join in the celebration.

Cunningham said the invitation was a pleasant surprise to him and the rest of BSU.

“The NAACP has been monumental in change and in advancement for people of color,” he said. “It’s an honor to be contacted by an organization that Dr. King himself worked very closely with. It means the world.

“It’s very important that Black Student Union spread our message and our mission off campus and into the community because we are not only here for our black students on campus. We are here for our black people in the community, as well.”

Cunningham said there is no time like the present to make a difference.

“We just don’t have time. It’s time to step up. It’s time to speak up. It’s time to start making changes. It’s time to start providing a community for each other because if we wait, it won’t come.”

Quincy NAACP President Annice Mallory, who introduced Monday’s keynote speaker, said this celebration was meant to give people a chance to reflect on and remember Dr. King’s legacy.

“It’s important to celebrate him because we should not forget what he and others went through to create a prejudice-free world,” she said. “It’s good that everybody comes together to commemorate, recognize, and acknowledge the work of Dr. King and others.”

During her keynote speech, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Latonya Brock presented a powerful message regarding inclusion and tolerance in society.

“It’s time for us to reach across the aisle and begin to really engage with one another in real conversation,” she said. “When the other side is reaching, it’s time for us to learn how to reach back.”

Quincy Teen Reach students led the church in the Pledge of Allegiance and performed a song titled, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Students Alexis Beaver, Makayla Andrews, and Briah and Amiah Blissit read a poem, “MLK in Me,” which Teen Reach Students wrote themselves to reflect the celebration’s theme.

Among those in attendance were Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore, Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb, several law enforcement officers, and clergymen and women from First Baptist and other local churches.

First Baptist and Bethel AME churches alternate hosting the celebration every year. The celebration will move to Bethel in 2021 and return to First Baptist in 2022.

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