Celebrating freedom’s birthday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

As a special tribute to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., several families attended a birthday celebration in his honor Monday afternoon at the Selma Mall.

The celebration was held in conjunction with the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute.

Those who came to the event were treated with free food and cake, along with skits performed by teens who wanted to promote King’s nonviolent message.

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A oratorical contest was also held for area middle and high school students, who were required to recite some of King’s greatest speeches.

Jeremy Peoples, a seventh-grader at Selma Middle C.H.A.T. Academy, took home the first-place prize in the middle school category.

Peoples said he was glad the judges allowed participants to bring their speeches on stage with them and he managed to use this to his advantage.

While the other students in Peoples’ category never glanced up from their script, he was able to recite most of it from memory.

Keith High School senior Sunkeissa Cantrell received first-place in the high school category of the contest.

Cantrell said it took her about two to three days to learn King’s famous &uot;I Have a Dream&uot; speech.

After the contest, the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute presented long-time volunteer Joanne Bland with their Martin Luther King Community Service award.

Bland seemed very shocked and honored to receive the award, giving Walker a big hug after receiving her plaque.

Sherry Mitchell, another volunteer for the museum, was also the recipient of the Martin Luther King Community Servant of the Year award.

Attorney Faya Rose Ora Rose Toure, who helped to organize the event, said she thought the program was successful.

Mall General Manager Carver Boynton said she was also impressed by the large number of young people who came out for the King celebration.

Later on that afternoon, a crowd gathered at the steps of the First Baptist Church for the annual King Day march.