On the day set aside to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Augusta's NAACP branch gathered to honor three people who serve their community and to call members to action in the struggle for civil rights.
"We gather here today not only to remember but to prepare ourselves for action," the Rev. Otis B. Moss, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, told the group gathered Monday for the 25th annual Freedom Fund Banquet.
In his keynote address, retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gray said the theme for this year's banquet -- Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders Today -- is the blueprint for a better nation.
In his speech, he called on today's leaders to model good behavior for future leaders.
Good leaders, like those who helped the civil rights movement succeed, were mindful of the present and the future, the retired general said.
"They were visionaries who saw their tomorrow and our today in terms of clear goals and objectives that they set for themselves," he said.
Many were recognizable people like Dr. King. But there were other leaders in the battles at Selma, Ala., Little Rock, Ark., Greensboro, N.C., and elsewhere, Mr. Gray said.
"The victors and leaders in (those) battles ... were the foot soldiers, people who desperately hoped they could make a difference in the future," he said.
In addition to guiding followers through troubles, good leaders give of themselves, Mr. Gray said.
"Leadership is always in service to others," he said.
After Mr. Gray's speech, the Augusta branch of the National Association of Colored People presented awards to three local leaders.
Joseph Gowdy received the President's Award for his years of service to the branch and the community, and branch secretary Betty Mozee received the Branch Service Award.
Keith New, a student at Paine College, received the Youth Services Award.