Overlap of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, presidential inauguration marked at service

Tony Howard watches the proceedings during the 22nd annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held at Paine College.

 

Some Augustans called the second inauguration of President Obama on Monday’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day a fitting coincidence.

Alvin Forrest, a former educator in Aiken and Richmond County schools, said he remembers well King’s 1968 death.

“Today is a day that reminds me of what Dr. King did before he died and in a few years what Obama has done and continues to do,” Forrest said.

On Monday morning before attending a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial service at Paine College, Forrest instructed a young black man he is mentoring to stop cutting the grass and watch the presidential inauguration.

“I want you to think about what you can do tomorrow,” Forrest told the younger man. “That’s my mission now.”

Charles Clark said King and Obama were striving toward similar missions of promoting human rights.

“The president is not just trying to help people of color. He’s trying to make this country a much better place to live in,” Clark said.

To honor King and Obama, their ideals must be taught to and carried on through younger generations, Clark said.

“The key thing is persevering in spite of all odds and to love your brother and your sister,” he said.

The memorial service held at Paine College’s Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel included a number of speakers and musicians from Augusta churches and elected offices.

The Rev. Gregory DeLoach, of First Baptist Church of Augusta was the keynote speaker.

DeLoach charged the crowd with making personal efforts to bring greater unity for the nation.

“It begins with the likes of you and me,” DeLoach said. “To be one nation means we need to be a people committed to one another for the sake of a better nation and a better world all under one God.”

At the service, the Martin Luther King Jr. Award was presented to Frank Roberson, the superintendent of the Richmond County School System.

“(King’s) presence, his philosophy has been part of my existence as long as I can remember,” Roberson said. “Let us move forward honoring the legacy of Dr. King remembering whenever, whatever we’re doing, let’s do it well.”

King’s example was also cited earlier Monday, as an Olympic gold medalist urged an audience to combine dreams and commitment.

Speaking to the 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Award Breakfast, LaTasha Colander-Clark, Paine College’s cross country and track and field coach, said of King: “He found his gift. You should find your gift.”

“We are the only representatives of God,” she said. “Our creator has given us the power of dreams and dreams can come true. All we have to do is start thinking.”

Speaking of King and what she called the power of thought, she said, “You are all only a thought away from changing the world.”

The annual event, sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Chi Lambda chapter, was held at the Augusta Mariott at the Convention Center.

The group presented its annual Unity Award to philanthropist and civic leader Pat Knox-Hudson. It named Henry Ingram, the chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, as its Lee N. Beard Award winner.

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