By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The largest celebration in Mississippi for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a service full of music and dreams for a better future.
Tupelo’s 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium honored those who strive toward making the world a better place and sharing messages of unity and love.
Guest speaker Congressman Alan Nunnelee reminded the audience why they were there.
“This day we come together, not because we’re all the same, but neither do we gather together in spite of our differences. Today we come together because of our differences,” he said. “Those things that unite us are far greater than anything that may divide us.”
He said many old buildings still carry signs that mark segregated areas, but they’re often built over or covered up. Instead, Nunnelee said, those signs should be taken down, and everyone should strive to take down any signs – physical signs or emotional signs – of racism and segregation they encounter.
“Then we will achieve Dr. King’s dream, and we will be free at last,” he said.
The Committee for King, which puts on the service each year, gave its Drum Major Award to educator Henry Cobb of Tupelo.
“I’ll do everything in my power to uphold the King legacy,” he told the audience, who gave him a standing ovation.
Shawn Brevard, a member of the Committee for King, honored students who penned essays about what King’s “I Have a Dream” speech means to them today. Brevard read the grand prize winning essay, written by sixth-grader Alexis Frasher of Guntown Middle School, in which Frasher said she shared King’s dream of equality.
The service also featured performances by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Choir and a drill team made up of members of churches from Lee and surrounding counties.
Monday concludes a weekend of King-inspired events, which began with an Apollo Night on Friday and a “Black Tie Affair” banquet on Saturday.
At 11 a.m. Monday, a motorcade will leave the VF Outlet Mall and will travel to the St. Paul United Methodist Church. A birthday celebration will take place at the church at noon, featuring guest speaker Rev. Bartholomew Orr.