Moving closer to MLK Jr.’s dream: Residents share views ahead of inauguration

Published 1:38 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

Carson, who is normally a large part of the local Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, will miss it this year but says his absence will be worth it as he thinks this year is a celebration in action of King&39;s dream.

&dquo;I&squo;m excited about it, frankly,&dquo; Carson says. &dquo;I think the inauguration occurring the day after King&squo;s birthday just underscores all that King and everybody else worked so hard to see happen.&dquo;

Tryon&squo;s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will be held Monday evening at 7 p.m. at the Tryon Fine Arts Center.

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This year&squo;s keynote speaker will be Mr. Al Richmond, who is director of healthy workplace initiatives with the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development in Durham. He has directed the On the Ground Smoking Cessation and Prevention Project, a successful collaboration with North Carolina based historically black colleges and universities to address tobacco use and cessation on selected college campuses and surrounding communities. &bsp;

Monday&squo;s celebration includes entertainment by Genesis, Green Creek All Male Chorus and Tryon United Methodist Church.

Karen McDowell will serve as emcee. McDowell is a graduate of Limestone College with a bachelor of arts degree in theater arts, which led to an internship in broadcasting.

The celebration is open and free to the public.

Also, the Polk County Public Library will celebrate King&39;s birthday with a family theater production from BrightStar Children&39;s Theater, &uot;The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.&uot; The performance, which the library says is best for children 8 and older, will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19 in the library community meeting room. Call 894-8721 for more information.

Thermal Belt Friendship Council President Dr. Joseph Fox says this year&squo;s MLK ceremony takes on special significance since it occurs one day before the inauguration of this country&squo;s first African-American president.

&dquo;It represents further fulfillment of Martin Luther King&squo;s dream,&dquo; Fox says, &dquo;as we all move together toward that mountaintop of which he so eloquently spoke.&dquo;

Tryon Town councilman Roy Miller, who says he may go to next week&squo;s inauguration, says this year&squo;s MLK day is a monumental occasion in which Dr. King&squo;s dream is becoming a reality. Miller pointed out Kennedy&squo;s prediction that the country would have its first African-American president in 2008.

&dquo;We as American citizens who believed in what MLK stood for can be proud that America is changing, seeking a non-violent end to resolving issues, free of prejudice,&dquo; Miller says. &dquo;We have a lot to be proud of not just as African-American citizens, but first and foremost as American citizens. Dr. King would be proud.&dquo;

Rev. Eleanor Miller of Tryon says she was overjoyed when the announcement came that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.&squo;s birthday was going to be a national holiday and now, some years later,&bsp; another African-American will be recorded in history books as the country&squo;s first African-American president.

&dquo;Isn&squo;t it ironic that these two great celebrations (coincide)?&dquo; Rev. Miller says. (See Rev. Miller&squo;s full letter on p. 6.)

Carson said he will join a group from Spartanburg, S.C. that will leave for the inauguration on Monday. He said he knows he will need to bring his patience with him as millions of people will be there. He will most likely be watching the parade and the swearing in from the Washington Monument, he said, but he just wanted to make the effort to get as close as he could.

&dquo;I thought, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,&dquo; he said.

Those who want to celebrate the inauguration locally can join Polk County Democrats and Friends of Barack and Michelle Obama at Kyoto Restaurant in Tryon on Tuesday.

From 11:30 to 1 p.m., the group will watch the inauguration on big-screen TV. From 6 to 10 p.m., Polk County&39;s version of the &uot;First-Ever Neighborhood Inaugual Ball&uot; will be held at Kyoto. This event will be interactive with the many balls taking place all across the country.