King Day Program held at Civil Rights Park - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

King Day Program held at Civil Rights Park

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January 21, 2008

Albany --  South Georgians spent this day paying tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

The NAACP King Day Program was held at the Civil Rights Park in Downtown Albany, where Dr. King marched and spoke during the movement in the early 1960's.

Now nearly 40 years after his assassination, a small group braved bitter cold and winds this morning to remember Dr. King's life.

South Georgians joined hands to once again sing the Civil Rights Movement songs. Many of these same people sang them with Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior in Albany, like 71-year-old George Hawthorne. 

"We went to jail the first two times he came," Hawthorne said.

But only a couple of dozen people braved near freezing temperatures for this King Day Celebration nearly 45 years later. The candle lighting ceremony was abandoned, because the winds blew out the candle. But it could not blow out the spirit in these people's hearts, for the legacy of Dr. King.

Organizer Polly Cherry said "We are not where we want to be. We are not where we should be, but thank God we are not where we used to be. And we must continue to keep the dream alive."

Cherry was a teenager at the march in Washington D. C. in August 1963, when Dr. King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. And today she remembered what Dr. King taught her.

"One of the things he would get on to me about, was not being able to stay calm when things were not going right," Cherry said.

Now the Youth advisor for the NAACP Chapter in Albany, Cherry passes on those lessons to today's teens.

"They can tell us what happened when he was here. So we can experience it better and understand it," says Nikki Walker.Tha

t's why they gather on this cold King Day. To remember Dr. King leading so many Americans in the fight against racism, for equality, and passing those lessons on to the next generation.

"I realize that they made sacrifice for me, to be here right now. So I take full advantage of it," said Myles Soilberry.

"I hope Albany one day will see what Dr. King said he saw. He saw a dream, and the dream can be had, if we can do the same thing," Hawthorne said

Shivering in the cold, young and old, remembering to keep that dream alive.

Speakers at the King Day celebration urged young people to practice non-violence and faith in their daily life, tenants of Dr. King's message.

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