PA celebrates MLK legacy Tuesday

Published 5:21 pm Monday, January 18, 2016

It may have been a half century ago since Luther King Jr. spread his message of civil change through the use of non violent civil disobedience, but in Port Arthur Monday the slain minister, activist, humanitarian leader’s message was as relevant today as it was in the 1960’s.

The Robert E. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center was close to capacity during the 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr., Brunch, where the crowd came to honor King’s work, remember his teachings and recognize those close to home who work to make their own community a better place.

“This is not a holiday for just one group of people. It is a holiday for all,” Mistress of Ceremony Jackie Simien, said of the federal holiday held each Monday after King’s Jan. 15, 1929 birthday.

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This year’s MLK Brunch theme was “Remember, Celebrate, Act” dovetailed with the theme presented by keynote speaker J. Lin Dawson.

Hargie Fay Savoy, president/founder of the Martin Luther King Support Group of Southeast Texas recounted the day King’s widow asker her to carry on her husband’s work in Southeast Texas after he was gunned down on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.

His death was followed by riots in many cities, not unike the rioting going on today because of the loss of mainly black lives from police killings.

“We live in devastating times now,” Savoy said.

Guest speaker J. Lin Dawson, a former New England Patriot, who was named athletic director of Clark Atlanta University and serves as a member of the President’s Executive Cabinet, said he was glad to be visiting Port Arthur once again, and that the people here reminded him of his native North Carolina.

“I feel at home,” he said.

Dawson recalled his 10 years with the NFL which included: 10 owners, 3,200 hours of practices, 180 NFL games, two major operations, a broken fibula, 64 trips to the chiropractor, eight days in the hospital and enough concussions to make him part of the lawsuit.

“I am part of the NFL concussion lawsuit, and folks I am not going to remember anything I said,” he joked from the Port Arthur podium

His status as an athlete provided a him a platform, he said.

In his post pro-football career, Dawson said he studied King’s principal of non-violent change and realized that the conflict resolution he taught would also work for leadership principals.

Dawson’s theme for his address was “Can Anything Good Come from the Hood?”

He chastised the black community for not going to the polls enough — only during major elections and not on off years.

Through the years things have changed, he said.

Gone are the days when one’s Aunt Gertrude can spank you, and all you could do was race home to catch the phone before she was able to call your mother and tell her what you had done, he said.

Because young people are likely to be stopped by the police, they should be taught strategies of how to interact with police.

One should also have a neighborhood agenda and a spiritual agenda.

“The problems we face today are not physical, they are spiritual. We can picket and march, but what we need to do is pray,” Dawson said. “God is not move by being poor; people have been poor forever.”

To young people, Dawson said, “The sooner you realize your purpose, the greater the impact you can have. Young people your birthplace is not your destiny. It is just your starting point.”

During the banquet the 2016 several presentations were made to those making positive contributions to their community.

Gloria Harrison was recognized for her work with the MLK Support Group as this year’s Woman of the Year.

“I have been here almost 30 years and only have been on this stage once when I had some children. I am humbled by this presentation,” Harrison said.

Melvin Getwood, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at Memorial High School, was named the MLK Support Group’s Man of the Year.

“This will be an honor I will cherish for years to come,” Getwood said “I am very appreciative and very surprised.”

Other awards included the Spirit Award given to students from Memorial High School, Entertainment honorees recognized were former Port Arthur resident turned actor Kaylon Hunt, and artist Ted Ellis.

Honored guests included, Beverly Hatcher, Dr. Chester Levy, Jr., Jeff Mc Manus, Tracie Payne, and Judge John B. Stevens, Jr.

The late Wilford “Popee” Scypion was paid tribute for his works as were K.T. “Ike” Akbari, Coach John Clayton, Dr. Oney D. Fitzpatrick, J., and Julyette Matthews Marshall.


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