MLK celebration convenes at Civic Center - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

MLK celebration convenes at Civic Center

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Fifty years ago this year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior first came to Albany to shine a spotlight on the struggle for civil rights. His involvement is credited with moving Albany's desegregation forward. Today Albany's NAACP celebrated King's work here.

Lonnie King a Civil Rights Activist and former District Attorney Ken Hodges will take the floor tonight. Both are expected to talk about King's influence here in Albany, but Camilla's Mayor earlier today challenged everyone not just to talk about Dr. King, but to also do his work which was to serve.

The Albany Civil Rights institute isn't typically open Monday. They were Monday with free admission to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, hoping to remind everyone of the spotlight he put on Albany's struggle for civil rights and desegregation.

"John Kennedy had a press conference on August 1, 1962 actually posed a question, why if we're sitting down with the Soviets in Geneva to negotiate an end to the cold war, why couldn't white and Negro leaders in Albany sit down at the same table to meet?" said Albany Civil Rights Institute Director Lee Formwalt.

The NAACP lit candles in King's honor symbolizing, love, hope, faith, justice, freedom, and peace all things King stood for, as Camilla Mayor Mary Jo Haywood challenged the group not just to talk about King, but to walk in his footsteps by serving.

"The challenge is Dr. King served and its not enough just to meet and say we're celebrating Dr. King day without doing something similar to what he did," said Camilla Mayor Mary Jo Haywood.

For Civil Rights Activist Mary Jones, who was in the crowd of 700 who marched with King, that means tutoring children at no cost and sharing her struggles of the past and the time she was arrested for marching with King.

"They hauled us all in a little, small alley and we were almost on top of each other, and about the time they did that is started raining," said Jones.

She spent the night crammed into a Newton jail cell with 25 others. Haywood hopes the students in crowd realize King and the others who stood by his side were ordinary people.

"They were ordinary people who, who answered an extraordinary call, you don't have to be a Morehouse man as Dr. King was."

Meaning everyone can do their part to do something in their community to further the civil rights of all.

Proceeds from the celebration go to support the Albany Civil Rights museum. They hold a community discussion, the last full week in the month on Thursday nights. Those discussions are free because of events like this so they're hoping for the community's support tonight.

January's meeting will include a discussion with the first school class in Albany to be segregated. If you can't make it out to tonight's King event, but are interested in the speakers, we'll carry a live broadcast of tonight's celebration from 7:00 tonight until 7:30, right here on WALB.

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