Editorial: A fitting observance
Sevier County should be proud to host an annual recognition of the contributions and importance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Frankly, a lot of communities with our demographics do not have such organized, community events to honor Rev. King.
It was the late Joseph McMahan whose persistence and determination got the project off the ground. He was at the front of the march in 2006 when the first MLK observance was held. He became ill after that and never was able to be the take-charge guy he so wanted to be. However, his death did not end the celebration.
People such as Jamesena Miller, Judge Dwight Stokes and Alverrene Bridgeforth took up the mantle and, joined later by Carroll McMahan and Robin Cogdill, have maintained the variety and diversity that such a program requires.
The MLK committee, which Stokes chairs, meets regularly to plan the activities and secure a speaker. Area churches are invited to be part of the program. First Baptist Church graciously loans its sanctuary to the organization.
Hundreds march from the church to the courthouse and back. The two-hour program is always a joy, evoking the legacy of Dr. King while showcasing the talented and spiritual people we have among us.
This year’s speaker, Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, recalled his own experience with school integration and memories of growing up in a segregated southern city like Sevierville. The various church music and dance groups were a treat. The entire presentation was superb from start to finish.
Let’s not forget the students who submitted posters in the annual MLK poster contest. These kids study Dr. King in school and know his contributions to our society. Their posters reflect that knowledge. Their artwork was terrific. We must never allow a future generation to forget what Dr. King did for all people. The poster contest helps to secure his place in their hearts and minds.
To all who made this year’s MLK celebration so memorable and meaningful, we say thanks. Sevier County’s annual program in honor of Dr. King shows us to be a caring, thoughtful and reflective community. That’s a nice feeling.