Community unites for MLK holiday

Published 5:46 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

The Martin Luther King Jr. celebration held by the Thermal Belt Friendship Council
Scott Young, senior vice-president, retail sales with Coca-Cola North America, was
The Thermal Belt Friendship Council announced this years $500 scholarship winner as Briana Bateman of Landrum High School. Other awards were given for the creative contest. First place went to Tyler Toomey, a senior at Polk County High School who wrote a selection about MLK, and second place went to Pam Wease, a junior at Polk County High School who performed a rap song about MLK.
Young reviewed MLKs life and said he feels that children today need to know Martin Luther Kings history, “but Im glad they dont have to live it.”
Young was born and raised in Boston, Mass. and spent his summers in Tryon with grandparents and extended family from this area. Young, like King Jr., graduated from Morehouse College.
Young reviewed Kings history, saying he was born to a minister father and teacher mother as Michael Luther King and later changed his name to “Martin.”
“With a minister and a teacher as role models, its not surprising that he had a thirst for knowledge,” Young said.
King graduated high school at the age of 13 and graduated Morehouse College at the age of 19. King then graduated from seminary school and later obtained a PhD in theology.
King joined the NAACP and the Montgomery bus boycott. He was arrested and personally abused, and his home was bombed, Young said.
At age 35, King was the youngest man ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Young said, and he gave his prize money to the peace movement.
Young quoted some of Kings statements last Friday, such as “Freedom must be demanded by the oppressed,” and “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Young said on the night before his assassination, King spoke about not knowing what was going to happen now but said hes been to the mountaintop. And like anybody, King would like to have lived a long life, Young said.
Young also reviewed the long struggle for every state to approve Martin Luther King Jr.s birthday as a national holiday. Finally, in 1983, 15 years after his assassination, Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law. By the mid 1990s, every state recognized Dr. Kings birthday, with South Carolina being the last to make it a paid holiday.
Young asked several times if Dr. Kings dream has been fulfilled. He said he knows a lot of us did not believe Barack Obama would be president.
“Now we can tell our children they can be anything they want to be and we can really mean it,” said Young.last Friday brought a crowd of almost 200 people from all walks of life to the Tryon Fine Arts Center.the keynote speaker. Music was provided by a newly formed group, the Unity Choir.

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