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Beyond the 50-year march: Area’s MLK celebration Jan. 18

The Thermal Belt Friendship Council will sponsor its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.

The celebration will be held at the Tryon Fine Arts Center located at 34 Melrose Avenue (Tryon).

Friendship Council President Dr. Joseph Fox said the organization’s goal each year is to provide a celebration for the public that is not only educational, informative and diverse, but that is also entertaining.

Alan Doorasamy Sr.

Alan Doorasamy Sr.

“We think that we are doing that once again through an outstanding speaker, musical selections from the Unity Choir, and a tribute to Nelson Mandela,” Fox said.

The speaker for the event is Alan Doorasamy Sr., attorney and ordained minister. Doorasamy was born in South Africa, and immigrated to the United States with his wife and their son. His wife (Sharon) is a native of Winston-Salem.

Her mother, Barbara Griffin (Hannon), was born and raised in Tryon. They have one beloved son, Alan Doorasamy Jr.

Doorasamy first came to this country 21 years ago as a Fulbright Scholar to earn his master’s degree in International Law from American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. He has three law degrees, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, and was awarded a Doctorate in Religious Education and a Doctorate in Theology for his outstanding contributions to motivating and uplifting people through his ministry for more than three decades.

Doorasamy began his legal career as a prosecutor more than 26 years ago.

He was one of the foremost black prosecutors in the district in which he grew up. This was during the apartheid years, which meant he could only prosecute blacks and not whites. So he has first-hand knowledge of government-imposed segregation and discrimination in his personal and work life.

In the late 1990s, after the end of apartheid, Doorasamy was appointed to serve on several key government boards in his country, while also maintaining his private law practice as a barrister. In 1997, the governor and legislature hand-picked him to serve on the KwaZulu-Natal Gambling Board, which regulates the gambling industry in South Africa’s most populous province. He was chairman of that board and also acted as its chief executive officer during the adjudication of the casino licensing process. He created the second largest gambling jurisdiction on the continent of Africa.

In fact, Doorasamy made history, in that, apart from being the youngest person ever to chair such a prestigious board, he established the gambling regulatory environment, drafted the request for proposals, chaired the adjudication, evaluation and granting of all the current mega-resort casino licenses in KwaZulu-Natal.

He was also nominated by the governor to serve on the National Gambling Board of South Africa, which regulates the entire gambling industry in South Africa.
While on the national board, Doorasamy participated in choosing the national central monitoring system operator for 50,000 slot machines throughout South Africa, outside of casinos. He later served as a consultant to the government and private corporations on gambling.

Doorasamy was also selected by the Minister of Environmental Affairs to serve on the board of the Nature Conservation Service of KwaZulu-Natal, which has been rated the best-run nature service in Africa, and as chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Fishing Liaison Committee for the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. He also served as legal advisor to a coalition of community groups seeking environmental justice against corporations and the government.

Doorasamy has his own law firm in Winston-Salem.
His main areas of practice are immigration law, federal criminal law and international law. He served as an executive member of the Forsyth County Bar Association/21st Judicial District Bar (FCBA) from 2008-2011; first chair of the Fee Dispute Committee of the FCBA; member of the ethics and grievance committee of the FCBA 2009-2012; chair of the Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission, appointed by the mayor, 2009-2010; first chair of the Coliseum Theatre Association for the Performing Arts in Winston-Salem, 2010-2011; and member of the Immigration Law Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association for two years.

Alan Doorasamy Sr. is currently on the board of directors of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company based in Winston-Salem and North West North Carolina Chapter of the Red Cross.

Doorasamy Sr. began preaching when he was just 8 years old and was the lay pastor of a church he pioneered for 11 years. It was during his time as a prosecutor that he founded a program called Steps to Elevate People in South Africa, which incorporated Christian principles to uplift people living in abject poverty, on the streets, prostitutes, drug abusers and repeat offenders. A church grew out of that ministry.

He served as the legal advisor for many church groups and mediated myriads of church disputes.  He was also a counselor to pastors, and became known as the “Pastors Pastor.” He is a recognized speaker in many churches in South Africa, and has ministered widely in the U.S.

On Dec. 27, 2013, he spoke at a reunion service in South Africa, organized by the many pastors who came out of his ministry.

Additionally, attendees at the MLK Celebration 2014 will be favored with selections of songs from the Civil Rights movement performed by the Thermal Belt Friendship Council’s Unity Choir, and a special tribute to the life and accomplishments of Nelson Mandela.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will also feature the awarding of the MLK Scholarship to a graduating high school student.

“The Friendship Council’s annual celebration could not continue to be the success that it is without our partnership with the Tryon Fine Arts Center, financial support from the Polk County Community Foundation, and local financial support for our scholarship program,” Dr. Fox said.

For more information about the program, or to participate in the Unity Choir, visit the Friendship Council’s website at friendshipcouncil.homestead.com.

– article submitted
by Dr. Joseph Fox