Community leaders, as well as many local citizens, were urged Saturday not to look at the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a black holiday, but as a day of joy for everyone.
Rev. Bennie Cobb, the featured speaker at Saturday’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration reminded the crowd that the freedoms he fought for include all people.
“The black man isn’t the only one who has problems,” Cobb said. “People of all colors have problems. We must work together to solve them.”
The event was hosted by the Union County chapter of the NAACP and included both New Albany Mayor Tim Kent and New Albany City School District Superintendent Charles Garrett, as well as other community leaders.
Kent stressed the importance of the holiday to show how far the United States has come in the last 50 years.
“Dr. King’s dream for us to all live equally has been realized,” Kent said. “We still have a ways to go, because we still have our problems, but we’ve come a long way.”
Garrett shared a quote of King’s as one that has inspired him through the years.
“Dr. King once said, ‘We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools,’” Garrett told the crowd. “What he said is just as true today as it was when he said it. While we as a community have done a good job in working together as brothers, we’re not always perfect. But we must keep working together.”
Garrett went on to talk about a former employee of the school district’s, Henry Knox.
“Mr. Knox worked for us for many years and was a role model for us all,” Garrett said. “While he worked for the district, we may not have had all of the ammenities we should have to aid with his disability. But, Mr. Knox did not complain once, that I know of. He’s the kind of man I think of when I read Dr. King’s quote.”
During his speech, Rev. Cobb also said that much of Dr. King’s dream has been realized.
“We have seen that some of his dream has come true through the election of our country’s first black president,” Cobb said.
“We live in the greatest nation on this earth,” Cobb continued. “If Dr. King could see us today, he could see the freedom that has been achieved because we are a democratic nation. But we must continue to press on toward the goal.”
In addition to the speakers, the audience enjoyed songs from the Golden Gate Church of God in Christ’s choir. The New Albany High School Junior ROTC also opened up the ceremony with the presentation of the U.S. flag and a rifle drill.
A community member, Jennifer Jones, also presented a poem to the crowd, relating the message that God made each person just as he meant, regardless of color.