By CHERIL VERNON
Several groups joined together to honor the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the annual parade and program Monday.
The events kicked off with the MLK Parade at the Anderson County Courthouse, as those carrying banners and riding in various vehicles and motorcycles trailed through downtown Palestine. The parade ended at the Farmer’s Market on Spring Street.
The annual program sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Chapter 6242 followed the parade at the Ben E. Keith Community Room. The event was held in conjunction with the Palestine Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club Inc. and the Negro Historical Preservation Society (Palestine Branch).
Guest speaker was Palestine native, the Rev. Dennis Smith, a graduate of Palestine High School and Prairie View A&M University, who spoke on “Generations of Power.” Smith also is first vice president of the local NAACP branch.
Using several examples from the Bible, Smith discussed “perceived power” and real authority and knowing the difference.
“Do we have the ability to affect change? Do we have the authority to do so?” Smith asked the audience.
Smith said it was important to understand the types of power, its source and scope.
“Somebody had to bleed, somebody had to die so we could have this power. Somebody had to make a sacrifice for some of the powers we have today,” Smith said about the civil rights laws and other freedoms Americans have today.
The power individuals have could be used positively or negatively to make change.
“If we have been empowered, we can have a positive effect or a negative effect, but nonetheless, we will have an effect,” Smith said.
Knowing how to use the power is vital.
“All members must be working together for common ground otherwise we are like crabs in a bucket trying to climb up and knocking others down because we have our own agenda....Together we stand, divided we fall,” Smith said.
In order to use power properly, stay focused on the goal — and be dedicated to it, Smith said.
“I challenge us in Anderson County to use the powers we have....” Smith said. “Dr. King’s dream is not yet realized, there is still more work to be done... Stand united. Remember, the power is from God and He is still in control.”
The Rev. Michael Thompson of St. James Missionary Baptist Church provided a special musical tribute during the program.
NAACP Chapter 6242 President Kenneth Davidson spoke briefly on the local chapter and the importance of celebrating MLK Day.
Mistress of Ceremonies Edwina Miller encouraged the audience to “pledge service to your family, your church and your community and help keep Dr. King’s dream alive.”
Local officials including Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert, Palestine City Councilman Vernon Denmon and Anderson County Precinct 2 Commissioner Rashad Mims also were in attendance.
A hamburger lunch was served.