LUMBERTON — The legacy of the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was honored Monday through multiple events in Robeson County.
More than 30 people gathered Monday afternoon at the Fairmont-South Robeson Heritage Center to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event, hosted by the Stop the Violence program.
“The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a defining moment each year when Americans across the country step up to make our communities more equitable and take action to create the beloved community of Dr. King’s dream,” said said Heather Seibles, commissioner of the Fairmont.
“While Dr. King believed beloved community was possible, he recognized and fought for systematic change. His example is our call to action,” she said.
The day is held on the third Monday of every January and is a public service day, she said.
Reverend Tyrone Watson, president of the Unified Robeson NAACP branch, shared a message titled “From Dream to Reality.”
Watson said 54 years have passed since King’s speech, which continues to inspire people to “keep fighting for equality”.
“We can all agree that this dream is far from a reality,” he said.
He spoke about racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and said that, statistically, African Americans are incarcerated five times more than white people.
He also talked about the symbol of the Robeson County Confederate Monument, which stands in front of the Robeson County Courthouse.
“These are not black issues, but these are American issues,” he said.
“There’s work for all of us to do,” Watson said.
To achieve the dream, individuals must first believe in it, he said. People must personalize the dream, be determined to make it a reality, and be dedicated to standing up for what is right.
“Because my brothers and sisters, when you walk with God, one person can make a difference,” Watson said.
“But, the question I have for you today, are you that person? Can you be dependable and trustworthy… Faithful and forgiving? Helpful and humble to make this dream a reality? ” he said.
Also during the ceremony, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was broadcast via video. Dontrell Biggs also performed the songs “We Shall Overcome” and “A Change Is Gonna Come”, to which crowd members responded by singing or standing during the performances.
Lunch was served on take-out plates and the following vendors participated by providing items at the event: Healthy Robeson, Robeson County Health Department and Southeastern Family Violence Center of Scotland County.
Pauline Campbell and Wixie Stephens, Robeson County Commissioners and Unified Robeson NAACP branch members also spoke at the event.
“I have to remember that we are all elected by the people to serve the community, but we are all chosen by God. It really takes a special kind of person to want to be a servant,” Stephens said.
“As we reflect on today’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday, it is thanks to him that I was elected the first African-American female chair of the board of trustees. of Robeson County. But the struggle is still real.
Wixie then asked the chosen ones to introduce themselves. Officials like Robeson County District Court Judge Diane Surgeon, District Attorney Matt Scott, Fairmont Mayor Charles Kemp and Fairmont Commissioners Terry Evans, Melvin Ellison and JJ McCree came forward and shared remarks about vacations.
“I want to thank everyone for putting this together and all of you for coming out and sharing this special moment with the town of Fairmont. Truly, Dr. King was a leader for all of us,” McCree said.
Robeson County Public Schools, the Teen Community Emergency Response Team, and the Zakat Foundation of America have partnered to host the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Lumberton High School. Members of Teen CERT and the Zakat Foundation braved windy weather conditions with temperatures reaching the 40s on Monday to serve the community and honor the legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
During the event, which started at 1 p.m., cold kits were distributed to the public and hot meals were served. The cold kits consisted of soup, cough drops, green tea and other items. The Teen CERT team also distributed bags containing information on COVID-19 booster shots and items such as stress balls and pill boxes.
“We have here students, seniors and groups from different organizations joining hands to do good,” said Nashat Abdelaziz, community organizer with the Lumberton-based Zakat Foundation.
Abdelaziz said members of Durham traveled to Lumberton to take part in the Foundation’s annual event.
He also said the pandemic and cold weather could prevent the organization from serving.
There were about 10 people served just after 1:30 p.m., and the CERT team’s goal was to distribute about 250 bags, said Linda Maynor Oxendine, area manager for Community Organized Relief Effort, which helped serve during the ‘event.
“We’re just trying to give back because a lot of people have been affected [by hurricanes in Robeson County and COVID-19]said Charles Hunt, member of Teen CERT.
The Lumberton Christian Care Center is what came to mind when members of two sororities sought out a project in honor of MLK Day of Service. Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities each stopped by the Center on Monday to donate to the cause.
The Deltas donated 100 pairs of gloves and 280 bars of soap to the center.
“We are committed to serving the community – providing resources that will empower and support our community,” said Vanessa Burton, president of the sorority’s Lumberton chapter.
Viv Wayne’s position as Delta and her presence on the board of directors of the Lumberton Christian Care Center helped identify the center’s needs.
“I know what’s missing and I know what the board needs. Every chance I get, I make sure I can get some of the things they need,” Wayne said. “…I just like to give and help people in need.”
Delta Sigma Theta celebrates 109 years of community service and social action, Burton said.
“We focus on scholarship, fellowship, service and social action, and Martin Luther King said the most important question in life is ‘What are you doing for others? and we view Lumberton Christian Care Center as an organization that is focused on service to others and we are about service,” Burton said.
In addition to the Deltas’ gift, Burton personally presented a check for $250.
Shortly after Delta Sigma Theta’s donation, the local Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter stopped by the center to drop off non-perishable food items, toiletries and cleaning supplies.
The sorority is no stranger to donating to the Lumberton Christian Care Center, but on MLK Day, the sorority was encouraged even more to donate and “do and have an impact,” according to Musheerah Oli, chapter president. .
“Particularly at this time during COVID, it’s important that we feel like giving back and plan to keep giving,” Oli said.
Oli described the Christian Care Center as an “asset” to the Lumberton community.
“We just felt like it was something we should do as a chapter in this area of Robeson County,” Oli said.
In addition to the donation to the center, the alphas donated “blessing bags” to the Lumberton and Fairmont police departments to distribute to the homeless.
Clementine Thompson-McCormick, director of the Center, said it was nice to get the necessary donations from each sorority.
“We can keep doing our job,” Thompson-McCormick said.