Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

January 20, 2014

King’s legacy of service and leadership honored at ceremonies

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — A bright, sunny January morning served as a perfect background for the start of a day of ceremonies recalling the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The national holiday commemorating the birth of the slain civil rights leader set the stage for observances in Corsicana, beginning with a rally at Bunert Park.

Morris Johnson, a member of the Class of 1959 at G.W. Jackson High School and a Collins Scholarship recipient, served as guest speaker for the rally.

Johnson, a lifelong educator, spoke of the importance of leadership within the community, and reflected on the leadership that Dr. King provided, and inspired.

Johnson said it was the support and guidance he received from the community as a youth that helped him find success and direction in life.

He spoke about how society had changed through the decades since King’s death, and how today’s generation is in need of the direction and leadership those of the “baby boomer” years enjoyed, calling upon those same “baby boomers” to step up and be leaders in the community.

“Today, we have no discipline,” Johnson said. “Consequently, they have no respect (for others).”

Rowena Winfrey, president of the Navarro County Chapter of the NAACP, praised those in attendance for taking part in celebrating what King stood for. She echoed the advice of Johnson for the youth of today.

“Education is your key,” she said. “For Dr. King, it wasn’t easy, but young people today have opportunities those that came before them didn’t.”

Corsicana councilwoman Ruby Williams called on young people to reach for excellence in their lives.

“We must continue to strive for the things we have purposed in our lives,” Williams said. “Your struggle is only a mole hill, not the mountains of the past.”

A march to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center followed the morning rally.

Another community-wide celebration was held Tuesday evening at Second Mission Baptist Church, hosted by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

The celebration was a spirit-filled evening of song and praise, including dozens of voices forming the Community Mass Choir, led by Valorie Horn.

Proclamations were read from Corsicana Mayor Chuck McClanahan, County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr., and from the State of Texas, provided by State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana).

The Rev. Dairy Johnson Sr., president of the IDMA, shared three special awards as part of the evening, recognizing individuals for involvement and achievements for the community. Receiving honors were Mrs. Warner Redus, Sirvella Monie, and Paul Lewis.

 A special message was delivered by Pastor Alfred Cox Jr. of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church.

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com