Helping Other People Excel, Inc., Covington, and Come As You Are Ministries, Clifton Forge sponsored the 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Celebration Sunday, with a very scaled-down program that did not include a keynote speaker.
The crowd assembled at Main Street Missionary Baptist, Clifton Forge, at 2:00 pm, and after a prayer delivered by Rev. Stephanie Clark, pastor, The Online Church, and Stephanie Clark Ministries, began their annual legacy walk down Main Street.
Led by Clifton Forge Police Chief Chad Wickline, the crowd sang spirituals as they marched to the Historic Masonic Theatre.
At the Theatre, the crowd joined some who were already seated and were greeted and welcomed by Justin Reiter, Executive Director, HMT, before he turned the program over to Master of Ceremonies Bishop Alfred “Mustard” Dearing, Sr., pastor, CAYA.
“I was there,” said Dearing as he shared his experience being present on the Washington Monument when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream Speech” in 1963. The audience was then led in singing, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, the Negro National Anthem, by Evangelist Kathleen Robinson.
Elder G. Pete Moore, Sr., pastor, of Gospel Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Covington, and First Church of God in Christ, White Sulphur Springs, WV gave the opening prayer and Rev. Dr. Ronald O. Baker, pastor, MSMBC, read from the NewTestament and Rev. Dr. Diane Quarles read from the Old Testament.
“We have a duty to pause and honor the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of these other unsung heroes,” said Wanda Moore, Executive Director of HOPE, as she talked about the inception of this annual celebration and compared it to marches during the Civil Rights Era. “This is our way of lighting a candle in memory of those trailblazers that we will never forget,” she said in conclusion.
Remarks were given by civic and government officials: Clifton Forge Mayor Jeff Irvine, Covington Mayor Tom Sibold, and Clifton Forge Town Manager Chuck Unroe. Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall and Covington Police Chief Chris Smith. And NAACP Representative Kim Lewis.
Former Clifton Forge Mayor, Pamela Marshall, led the audience in a moment of silence to remember the late Dr. Calvin Andre McClinton. She talked about some of the many projects that he led in the community and surrounding areas, including the annual legacy walk.
The audience was treated to a feature presentation of the “I Have a Dream” speech before Clark dismissed the crowd for refreshments and fellowship in the Thomas P. Dean/Racey and Dean Inc. Underground Lounge.