“The Dream Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”
By David Meade
The Town of Williamston remembered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a first annual MLK breakfast and memorial program Saturday at the Artory. The breakfast commemorated Dr. King’s life and legacy and comments from the program’s featured speakers reflected the program theme of “The Dream Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Greenville County Council District 3 representative Jil Littlejohn was the featured speaker and closed the program.
Pastor Tiko Thurman gave the invocation. Saxophonist Leisha J provided live entertainment during the breakfast. Williamston’s First African-American Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Harold J. Mackey and Dr. Grady Butler reflected on their interactions with Dr. King and their struggles during the early Civil Rights movement.
Mackey was at a book signing for Dr. King in Harlem when King was stabbed. Dr. Butler knew the King family in Atlanta and spent time in jail with Dr. King after being arrested at a Riches lunch counter in downtown Atlanta. Butler spoke on Dr. Kings “courage and commitment.”
“He had the courage to do the things that needed to be done,” Butler said. “Of which there is not a lot these days. There is a lot of talking, but not a lot of walking the walk.”
In finishing he raised the question of “How much are you willing to give?”
Littlejohn is one of two minority members on Greenville County Council and the youngest member. She said the speakers before her had laid a great foundation. “If we are going to move forward, we cannot forget the past, and take from that and move forward.”
A native of inner-city Atlanta, she spoke of early years when she didn’t watch the news because “it was so painful” and many times it was about “Somebody I knew who was shot or killed or going to jail.”
She touched on Trevon Martin and Michael Brown incidents and stated, “we should love the individual and hate what he does” and urged non-violent social action. “Don’t hate the person, hate the deed.” She asked, “What could we do to calm the situation.”
From those incidents to the terrorist killings in France and kidnapping of girls in Africa, Littlejohn said as individuals, are you going to “sit back or step up to do something to change the community?”
She urged those in attendance to use their gifts to further Dr. King’s dream and challenged, especially younger members of the audience, to have a goal to continue the fight.
During the program, former Williamston resident Ralph Holloway was introduced and spoke briefly. Holloway had a big impact in high school sports in Eastern North Carolina and was recently inducted into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame said, “I really appreciate the impact that the community had on me and in shaping me when I went off to Elizabeth City State University in 1971 to get an undergraduate degree.” He said, “The raising we had on Market Street and people along the way, helped every step of the way.”