Originally created 01/19/99

Mayor backs new symbol



In his famous I Have a Dream speech, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said he dreamed of black and white children walking hand in hand as brothers and sisters.

On Monday, Augustans came together for a special ceremony at Old Government House to show they still carry that dream in their hearts as Mayor Bob Young and Charles Walker Jr. unveiled the Heritage Crest, a symbol of unity.

"In two weeks of being mayor, we've talked about unity," said Mr. Young, so he said this ceremony celebrating unity was "only fitting."

The brilliantly colored crest has 21 symbols that tell the story of blacks from their beginnings to their enslavement period and eventual freedom. It has spiritual significance with symbols of faith and peace.

Envisioned by Mr. Walker six years ago and illustrated by Xavier Jones, the crest will be unveiled at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington on Jan. 29 and will be exhibited across the nation as Mr. Walker works with mayors and pastors. Coca-Cola is the flagship sponsor.

Mr. Walker, son of state Sen. Charles Walker, served on the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes and introduced the crest there as a symbol to combat hate.

Mr. Walker said he believes unity is a spiritual concept.

"How can we come together on common ground when we have not met on holy ground," said Mr. Walker, the founder of the Society of the Heritage Crest, which honored two local pastors at the ceremony for their work to unify the community.

Dr. Sam Davis, pastor of Beulah Grove Baptist Church, and the Rev. Cesar Brooks, pastor of Maranatha Christian Center, received the Heritage Crest Visionary of Unity Award.

Several groups have endorsed the crest and its message. Among them are the National Baptist Convention USA, Promise Keepers, the Rainbow Push Coalition and chairmen of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Charmain Z. Brackett can be reached at (803) 441-6927 or czbrackett@hotmail.com.