By David Meade
The Town of Williamston sponsored a memorial breakfast program Saturday morning in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event was held at the historic Caroline Community Center and featured guest speaker, Senator Karl Allen of Greenville.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham welcomed approximately 200 guests. “This is one of our most special events, celebrating diversity in our community,” he said. “and Dr. King’s vision of community.”
“The only race we need to recognize is the human race,” the mayor said.
Durham introduced special guests including Police Chief Tony Taylor, Councilman Tony Hagood, Councilman David Harvell, Anderson County Council District 7 Representative Cindy Wilson and Senator Allen.
Pastor Mark Roberts of Calvary Baptist Church gave the invocation.
Saxophonist Leisha Collier, of Anderson, presented special music during the breakfast which was catered by Dove Catering of Anderson.
Rev. Tiko Thurman, of Mt. Able Baptist Church in Pendleton, and family members presented a special music selection “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and were joined in singing by members of the audience.
Deacon Ted Mattison, of New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Williamston, presented information on the history of the Caroline Center.
Mattison said the school was established in the late 1870s with classes first held at New Prospect Baptist Church.
In 1890 classes were held at Bethel. In 1908 a building was erected on W. Caroline St. for the private school. In 1935 that building burned and school classes were moved back to New Prospect.
In 1936 property was sold to District One and the Carolina High School was built and opened in 1937 and operated, teaching students from across Anderson County until 1955.
The building served as Caroline Elementary school from 1955 until 1969. It housed the Head Start program until 1983. In 1985, the Williamston Action Community Club purchased the property and the building was opened as the Caroline Community Center.
The building stands at the corner of School Street and Martin Luther King Dr. in Williamston.
Mattison said the WACC was “glad to open the doors to the community for a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Special music was presented by Mose’ of the Palmetto Baptist Association.
Pastor Darrin Johnson, of New Prospect Baptist introduced the guest speaker, Sen. Karl Allen.
Allen is a senior partner in the Karl B. Allen Law Firm, LLC in Greenville. He serves in the SC Senate for Greenville County District 7, and served 12 years in the SC House of Representatives District 25. He is a member of the NAACP, NABCJ, Rainbow Push and Put Down the Guns Young People organization.
He is a graduate of USC School of Law, Juris Doctor Degree, USC College of Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Science Degree, Atlanta University and Southside High School.
Allen is a member of the American Bar Association, SC Trial Lawyers Association, Greenville County Bar and licensed to practice in all state and federal courts. In his introduction, Johnson said “He is often referred to as the Lawyer other Lawyers come to watch.”
Sen. Allen said, “It is a privilege and an honor to stand before you in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“He provided a road map, to help somebody, for people to humble themselves and pick up a nobody. I am somebody.”
“Greater is he that is in you, who is greater than he who is in the world.”
Allen said, “The solution to America is right here in this room.”
“Black, white young, old. All are precious in God’s sight.” He spoke of dark days and said, “Our future is ahead.”
Allen said Dr. King offered a real vision, the solution to equality, and economic empowerment, “comes when you are able to come together.”
“Equlity is opportunity for all,” Allen said. “Free from prejudice and discrimination.”
The Democrat senator then brought up politics, stating that the government shutdown was at the fault of President Trump and referenced comments attributed to the president recently.
Other comments were more positive as he returned to the message of Dr. King.
“Young people, MLK opened the door of opportunity and equality. Do something with it.”
Allen referenced the Emanuel AMC Church shooting in Charleston and how he had just met with one of the victims.” He said “the eyes of the nation are upon South Carolina. What will we show them.”
Often it is “how you deal with it,” he said. He then quoted Dr. King. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate will not drive out hate. Only love will do that.”
He went on, “We as a people and in Williamston can live out the true spirit of Dr. King.”
“Don’t walk by somebody trying to be somebody,” Allen said. “Do you have the strength to love? Where do we go from here? I say we go where we need to for economic equality. If there is a threat, we address it together.”
In closing he said, “Where we go, as a community, lets go together.”
He thanked Mayor Durham for hosting the event.
Rev. Tiko Thurman then presented a special rendition of an old negro spiritual, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
On closing, Pastor Johnson referenced Sen. Allen’s comments on equality, education and economics. “We should learn about each other, and have an appreciation for each other,” he said.
“The only way to learn is to talk to each other.. We have to bring resources together and share them together.”
The Town of Williamston sponsored a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial breakfast program Saturday morning. Senator Karl Allen of Greenville (left) was guest speaker. Also pictured are Cindy Wilson, Anderson County Council District 7 Representative, Darrin Johnson – Pastor New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. R. Mack Durham – Mayor of Williamston. Approximately 200 people attended the event held at the Caroline Community Center.