King Holiday Weekend emphasizes 'hope and change'


In recognition of their servant leadership, the Rev. Louis Tonsmeire Sr. and his wife, Sally, were selected as this year’s grand marshals for the local King Holiday Weekend Celebration’s Brotherhood March.“Sally and I are deeply honored,” Tonsmeire said. “For a long time, we have been committed to promoting justice and harmony in this community. We are convinced that people of goodwill can come together and find the consensus that is just and fair, and promote the dignity of every person. There is a long history for this dialogue and achievement in this community. I would like to believe that this invitation to be grand marshals is a recognition of our long-time commitment. We are grateful for this honor.“... We have attended [the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration] every year since returning to Cartersville to live in 1994. This is important. First, to honor Dr. King, his contribution to the long journey to ‘liberty and justice for all.’ Also, to honor the citizenship and contribution of the African-Americans in this community. We are blessed to live in a community where people can and do work together. We come to honor all the others committed to the ideal — ‘to judge every person by their character, and not the color of their skin.’”A Cartersville City Council member since 2002, Tonsmeire has served the community in numerous ways over the years, such as participating in the Youth Adult Council in the 1960s, being a Cartersville School Board member from 1972 to 1980, spearheading Bartow Health Access and currently taking part in the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and the Community Diversity Council. Also active in the community, Sally Tonsmeire is an officer for the Etowah Valley Historical Society, the city of Cartersville’s Historic Preservation Committee and the Community Diversity Council.On Monday, the Cartersville couple led the Brotherhood March procession, which started and ended at the Cartersville Civic Center, pausing in the middle for a ceremony at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center.“They represent everything that the vision of Dr. King stood for,” said Linda Ford Kellogg, chairperson of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee of Bartow County. “... They are definitely servants. ... Plus since the King Holiday Weekend has begun under the leadership of Gov. [Joe Frank] Harris, Rev. Tonsmeire and his wife have always supported it.”A federal and state holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognizes King’s birthday and is celebrated on the third Monday in January. Born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929, King was the leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in April 1968.Along with Bartow residents, local government officials also participated in Monday’s observance. Previously signing a proclamation to mark the holiday’s significance, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor and Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini both spoke at the gathering.Addressing the crowd, Taylor read the proclamation, which stated, “... Dr. King’s example stirred men and women of all backgrounds to become foot soldiers for justice, and his leadership and timeless words of inspiration gave them the courage to refuse limitations of the day and fight for the prospect of tomorrow; and [in] the generations to come, if Dr. King’s example is followed, then the great ideals that he so nobly sought and his faith in a God who loves all his children and a nation grounded in the promise of equality would not let him rest until every victory was won; whereas; in keeping with Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, let us embrace the belief that our destiny is shared, accept our obligations to each other and to future generations, and to strengthen the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. Now therefore; we, Steve Taylor, commissioner of Bartow County, and Matthew J. Santini, mayor of the city of Cartersville, do hereby proclaim Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, to be a day in Bartow County and Cartersville to honor the legacy and vision of Dr. King.”Bearing the theme “Remember! Celebrate! Act! — a day on, not a day off,” the King Holiday Weekend Celebration started Sunday with a 6 p.m. candlelight service at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cartersville, featuring Michael Thurmond — attorney at Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak law firm — as the keynote speaker. During the ceremony, the Drum Major accolade was presented to Ralph Lowe and the Ann Carter Johnson memorial scholarship was awarded to Odera Anokwalu-Igwebuike, Dwona G. Alexander, Anna Danielle Dean, Andrew Isaac Morgan and Sarah Danielle Healey.The festivities continued Monday at 10 a.m. with a youth rally at St. Luke A.M.E. Church in Cartersville. Following the Brotherhood March and a wreath-laying ceremony, the two days of activities were culminated with a Brotherhood Program that featured a message from the Rev. Khyri Rogers, pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Cedartown.“This year’s celebration was all about hope — hope and change,” Kellogg said. “It was about hoping that we can do better so that our children can do better, and in order to do that sometimes we have to make the change. That’s what I’ve gotten from everything that has happened from the candlelight service to the speaker today.“This speaker this afternoon was talking about Black Lives Matter, but he said that when something happens we get concerned about what has happened,” she said, referring to Rogers’ presentation. “But when they’re out in the streets after midnight and when they [are] hanging with all these different people, nobody seems to care. But let them get in trouble, he said, that’s when we say they matter. And I thought that was so powerful.”