Several events planned for MLK Day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Pauline Dinkins Anderson recalled her husband’s meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. L.L. Anderson later moved to Selma to become pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church. Little did he know while in Montgomery he would later invite his new friend to Selma and ignite a flame that still burns today. A number of observances are set to honor Dr. King in Selma, around the state and around the country.

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His birthday is a national holiday. The post office, City Hall, the Dallas County Courthouse and banks will be closed.

But here the celebrations hold a special meaning. People here knew the man who headed a movement that brought down antiquated laws that discriminated against blacks, and dreamt of a day when his children would be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of their character.

The church where Dr. King frequented, and was the home of the first Mass Meeting that launched the Voting Rights Movement, is hosting the first of what will become an annual event honoring the slain civil rights leader. Tabernacle Baptist Church, located at 1431 Broad St., became impossible to secure after Dr. King brought the national spotlight to Selma focused on the right to vote.

Montgomery had given the civil rights movement momentum after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus, and the Dr. King-led 382-day protest that broke down discriminating laws surrounding public accommodations in 1956. Public demonstrations in Selma would lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after Dr. King led a successful march from Selma to Montgomery.

Prior to that marchers were beaten in a spectacle on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that drew the national spotlight and an influx of people from throughout the country who joined in to help right America. Anderson remembers those days well.

At 84 she still reads the newspaper, but she only has a few piano students these days.

She recalled Sunday afternoons were different at Tabernacle Baptist Church when Dr. King was in town. He had roots close by. His wife, the late Coretta Scott, was from Marion in neighboring Perry County.

The central location of the movement was changed to Brown Chapel A.M.E. because it wasn’t located on a busy U.S. highway. Both churches are honoring Dr. King.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tenn., where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, Dr. King was assassinated.

The Dr. King Birthday Commemoration at Tabernacle is set for Monday at 2:45 p.m. Its theme is &8220;Remembering the Man and the Legend.&8221;

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr., will be in Clearwater, Fla., on Monday. He is the featured speaker following a Unity Breakfast and march at a rally sponsored by the Upper Peninsula chapter of the NAACP. Bertha Kelly, a Keith High School graduate, is the 2007 holiday celebration chairperson.

The Rev. Mark Duke, Freedom Foundation president, will be the featured speaker at Brown Chapel on Sunday at 11 a.m.

The Colorado foundation, which recently purchased a building on Broad Street in Selma with plans of starting social services, has a program entitled &8220;Selma

looking back, moving forward&8221; commemorating the life of Dr. King. The program is set for 7 p.m. in the Striplin Performing Arts Center.