Speaker uses Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to urge Augustans to break cycle of inequality

300 gather at celebration to honor King

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Decades after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington, Sylvia Russell used the civil rights leader’s birthday celebration to remind Augusta there is still work to do.

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Eunice Harris (from left), of Augusta; Alice Simpkins, of Trenton, SC.; Taffica Ryan, of Thomson; and Helen Blocker-Adams, of Augusta, cross and hold hands as they sing We Shall Overcome during a service celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. at Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Eunice Harris (from left), of Augusta; Alice Simpkins, of Trenton, SC.; Taffica Ryan, of Thomson; and Helen Blocker-Adams, of Augusta, cross and hold hands as they sing We Shall Overcome during a service celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. at Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel.

In 2012, an education gap is growing between minority and white students, she said. The black unemployment rate is almost double that of white workers, she added, and people of all colors are struggling in a war with poverty.

“Change is rarely easy, and it often comes very slowly,” said the guest speaker at the King birthday ceremony Friday at Paine College. “So today, despite a lot of progress … we still face many of the same issues that led to the march on Washington nearly 50 years ago … I know for sure Dr. King wouldn’t want us to be on the sidelines.”

In Paine’s campus chapel, about 300 people gathered Friday to celebrate King’s birthday and continue the tradition of his message.

The ceremony was a collaboration among Paine, Augusta State University, Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta Technical College.

Russell, of AT&T Georgia, targeted the young people in the audience, telling them the best weapon to use fighting social problems is education.

Breaking a cycle of inequality is possible by “making sure that you leave through the same front door that you entered with a degree or a certificate in your hand,” Russell said.

In the audience, the Rev. Paulwyn L. Boliek sat quietly, listening to the speakers and singers from the four schools’ choirs honor King.

Every year he makes it a tradition to celebrate King’s legacy, mostly to remember the battle he witnessed growing up in segregated Columbia.

“I never went to school with a black person, I never had a black teacher, and I think my education was diminished by that,” Boliek said. “My children and my grandchildren benefited from a more integrated culture. It was painful growing up.”

Latice Washington brought her two sons to the ceremony to remind them of their culture and the achievements of black Americans before them.

Although he has only read about civil rights struggles in history books, Washington’s older son, Raequan Kea, 14, said he is aware of how the civil rights leader’s work helped create a better future for him.

“We should be thankful we can sit in the cafeteria and the gymnasium at school with all kids and not have confrontations about race,” Raequan said.

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trimmy
29
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trimmy 01/13/12 - 06:51 pm
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If we stop paying people to
Unpublished

If we stop paying people to sit home and watch the mailbox, they would work. If we put discipline back into schools, they would study. Just my opinion.

trimmy
29
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trimmy 01/13/12 - 06:51 pm
0
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If we stop paying people to
Unpublished

If we stop paying people to sit home and watch the mailbox, they would work. If we put discipline back into schools, they would study. Just my opinion.

markmjtx
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markmjtx 01/14/12 - 01:43 am
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Rev. King had a great quote

Rev. King had a great quote about people not being judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Education is important, but I wish people would place a greater emphasis on the character issue when it comes to King's message.

skeptic griggsy
39
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skeptic griggsy 01/14/12 - 03:29 am
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Yes,markmjtx! And the
Unpublished

Yes,markmjtx! And the poor,despite Newton Leroy Gingrich, have character- hard working at that!
Thanks to Pres. Barack Hussein Obama's character we see wondrous changes! Four more years of indefatigable,indomitable character!

Abbynoll
282
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Abbynoll 01/14/12 - 04:44 am
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Agreed, mark.

Agreed, mark.

howcanweknow
2306
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howcanweknow 01/14/12 - 02:55 pm
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Agreed. I've known very

Agreed. I've known very highly educated people with very questionable character, and some very uneducated folks with the utmost character and integrity. Having knowledge does not necessarily make you wise, and definitely doesn't always translate into integrity.

Problem is that character is the more difficult to formulate. Anyone can be educated, if they want to do so and apply themselves. Character, however, is not easily taught. It can be modeled by observing other high-character people and absorbing their actions.

So, in some ways, you might say that it is a cop-out to blame all of society's problems on lack of education. That sort of takes the blame off the individual and places it on society as a whole. But, isn't that where we are today? No one wants to take responsibility for their shortcomings, but tries desperately to blame everything on others. "It's not my fault." Well, more often than not, our (mis)fortunes are simply the results of choices WE make.

lovingthesouth72
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lovingthesouth72 01/14/12 - 07:38 pm
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If people would have really

If people would have really followed Dr King's message, "judged a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character" then Obama would have never been elected. But this country went for the skin color, and now we are paying the consequences for his poor character.

Tyler
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Tyler 01/14/12 - 10:51 pm
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Well it is kind of hard to

Well it is kind of hard to employ the same rate of people when the different races have differing percentages in the community, just, you know, wanted to throw that in there.

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