MLK legacy remembered during annual brunch

Published 6:11 pm Monday, January 21, 2008

By Sherry Koonce

The News staff writer

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. legacy should be more than a choir singing, more than a candle lit and more than a once-a-year celebration. It should be a year-round continued effort by all to make the changes that the slain civil rights leader started 40 years ago with his non-violent message of racial equality, anti-poverty and anti-war.

Guest speaker Ed Gordon encouraged Monday’s audience at the 2008 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday Celebration to keep MLK’s dream alive.

The problems facing today’s society are very much the same as those prevalent when Dr. King gave his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, he said.

“The dream is yet to be fulfilled” Gordon said.

The Emmy award winning broadcaster is host of “Our World” with Black Enterprise, has been a contributing correspondent for the CBS newsmagazine ‘60 Minutes II,” NBC’s “The Today Show” and “Dateline.”

“Most of you complain about change and what isn’t, when you haven’t done a thing to make change happen,” he said.

Gordon urged those attending Monday’s banquet to be unified and involved in making a change, not just for today, but for the long haul — especially during this historical presidential campaign. Gordon stopped short of endorsing a political candidate, but urged people to realize the high stakes, and to vote for the best qualified candidate.

“Whether you vote for Obama, for Clinton, for Romney, Guiana, any of the other candidates or a write-in, you need to realize how important it is to vote,” he said. “If ever there was a time to vote, it is now.”

Gordon warned against the silence of apathy — people thinking they could not make a difference.

Hargie Faye Savoy, founder/president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Support Group of Southeast Texas, said she was pleased with the day’s attendance.

“I think the crowd is back to where it was before Hurricane Rita,” she said.

Savoy said she hoped those attending would take the guest speaker’s words and put them into action.

“We need to really think — not so much about the candidates — but about the upcoming presidential election and how important this one is. The world is in so much turmoil now. If you ever want to be sure, you want to be sure about who you are electing. Be sure you have the right person for the job,” she said.

Martin Luther King Jr., was the right person to embrace the need for change 40 years ago, and his legacy should not be forgotten,” she said.

“For a man only 39-year-old, during his life he wrote so many remarkable things, he wanted people to think about the issues then, just as we should now,” she said.

During Monday’s brunch, numerous Southeast Texans were honored for their contributions to society.

Port Arthur native and renowned attorney James E. Payne was recognized as the 2008 Spirit Award recipient. Certified as a personal injury trial lawyer, Payne has been selected as one of Texas’ Super Layers, which represents the tip five percent in the Texas Bar. He is listed with “The Best Lawyers in America. He is a motivational speaker and developed an economic empowerment plan to stimulate the black community.

Others honored were 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham, Sabrina Vrooman, the first female administrator in the Lamar University System; and Tisha Armstead, organizer of Port Arthur Helping Our People Excel (HOPE.)

Contact this reporter at skoonce@panews.com