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Rock Hill and Webster Groves community members met at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. for the 23rd Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration.
Sunday, Jan. 14, brought a light snow flurry and temperatures averaging 22 degrees, yet supporters of MLK’s dream marched down Elm Avenue, into Rock Hill, and into Steger Sixth Grade Center. Dr. John Simpson, superintendent, said the number of people that endured the weather to march “says a lot about the care in this community for the cause.”
The march route was blocked off by police to ensure safety.
At Steger, other people joined the marchers for a dinner provided by local businesses and churches, and the crowd headed into the auditorium for a service titled “Can You Hear Me Now?”
The service began with a “call to unity” led by the Reverend Vickie Gray, pastor at Unity United Methodist Church. She read aloud to the audience: “The ultimate measure of humankind, according to Martin Luther King, Jr., is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand in times of challenge and controversy.”
The crowd responded with “O God, we pray, give us courage to be counted among those who will work for justice.” Gray then led the community in “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which she described as the “National Negro Anthem.”
After an invocation, Simpson welcomed everyone to the event, briefing the community on why they gathered.
“Tonight we gather to honor and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential leaders this world has ever seen… a man who dedicated and ultimately lost his life fighting for major transformations in people’s hearts,” Simpson said.
The keynote speaker was The Reverend Dr. Craig Howard, the Transitional Leader of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery. Howard urged the community to stand up for what is right, and be strong in times of trouble.
The Avery Spotlight Singers sang two songs. WGHS A Cappella sang “MLK” by U2, featuring soloists juniors Nicolaus Braun and Gold Kaanagbara.
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