“Building Community” theme of Friendship Council celebration

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, January 8, 2015

Willie Ratchford, director of the Charlotte Community Relations Committee, will deliver the keynote address.

Willie Ratchford, director of the Charlotte Community Relations Committee, will deliver the keynote address.

The Thermal Belt Friendship Council will hold its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, from 6-8 p.m. at the Tryon Fine Arts Center at 34 Melrose Avenue in Tryon. Through a generous Polk County Community Foundation Free Community Event grant, they are able to offer keynote speaker, Willie Ratchford, director of the Charlotte Community Relations Committee; musical entertainment from local musicians Bryant Belin and Beth Thomas; and free refreshments catered by Impeccable Taste.

The Friendship Council invited Ratchford, immediate past president of the National Association of Human Rights Workers, to speak at the MLK celebration because of his outstanding record to motivate and inspire individuals to celebrate our differences and build a more equitable community.

Active in civil rights for nearly 30 years, he received the Charlotte Area Peace Corps Association’s first “Peace Prize” in 1998 for his work to reduce tensions and foster a spirit of harmony in the community. In 2005 he received the Individual Human Rights Award from the National Association of Human Rights Workers and the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for Race Relations in 2006, presented by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to recognize persons who have encouraged and motivated improved relationships among people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. In 2008, he received the Spirit of Detroit Award in recognition of exceptional achievement, outstanding leadership and dedication to improving the quality of life.

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“With national attention once more being drawn to issues of civil rights, it is so important to direct our attention to the things Dr. King taught us about community, justice, and peace,” says Friendship Council President, Donna Tatnall.

In keeping with the mission to promote equity in our community, the council will present their annual MLK Scholarship to a graduating Polk County or Landrum high school student whose lives are an example of promoting social, racial, equality, and diversity issues in our community.

The second annual MLK Creative Arts Competition first, second, and third cash prizes awards will also be presented to the winning entrants in the essay and visual arts categories. Intended to inspire middle school students to contemplate the issues of diversity and social justice, the entries are judged for craftsmanship and content. Winning student entries will be displayed during the reception at the event.

There is no fee to belong to the Friendship Council and new members are always welcome. Monthly meetings are open to the public and are held on the second Tuesday at Roseland Community Center in Tryon on the corner of East Howard and Peake Street (the next meeting will be at 6 p.m., Tues., Jan. 13).

Other upcoming events include monthly lunch gatherings at local eateries and a free annual potluck picnic at Harmon Field in June.

To make a tax deductible contribution to the MLK Scholarship Fund or Creative Arts Competition awards, email the Friendship Council President, Donna Tatnall, at dtatnall@yahoo.com or mail donation checks to Thermal Belt Friendship Council, PO Box 414, Lynn, NC 28750. Please specify in the memo line whether the gift is for the MLK Scholarship, MLK Art Competition or Unrestricted. For more information about the Thermal Belt Friendship Council, go to http://friendshipcouncil.homestead.com.

–Submitted by Robin Edgar