Reuben Peeks and his wife, Mildred, led the parade as grand marshals this year.
“I would just like to thank each and every member of the MLK committee for, you know, choosing me,” said Mr. Peeks “There were a lot of other people they could have chose besides me so I would like to just thank them from the very bottom of my heart for thinking enough of me, to choose me.”
Peeks is one of the oldest business men in Cartersville. He worked in law enforcement for 15 years and has owned an appliance repair business for 35. He hosts his own radio show, “Sunday Morning Gospel Time” on WHBC. He and his wife have lived here in Bartow County thier whole lives.
Participants in the march assembled at the Cartersville Civic Center, marched through town and stopped at the Frank Moore building where Mayor Matt Santini and Commissioner Steve Taylor addressed the group as part of the wreath laying ceremony. After a prayer, Taylor read the proclamation.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day whereas Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and his legacy have established him as one of America’s greatest leaders and whereas by his example of a moral life and tireless efforts to justice in equal rights provides timeless works of inspiration. Dr. King has helped to transform America from a society in which prejudice ... and inequality were accepted practices, to the America today where such practices are no longer tolerated but instead are condemned or exposed to the judgment of a more enlightened society and whereas in the generations to come, if Dr. King’s example is followed then the great ideas that he so nobly sought, for which he gave the complete full and last measure of devotion can be extended to the people of all nations on Earth, and whereas Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, will be a day of celebration in Bartow county at the anniversary of the birth of Dr. King,” said Taylor.
Santini then took the stage and reminded the audience of the day’s goal to remember, celebrate and act. One group Santini recognized as leaders who chose to “act” were the members of the New Frontier of Bartow County.
“Fifty years ago a group of African-American men formed a group known as New Frontier of Bartow County. Their mission is to work for the betterment of all citizens in Bartow County, to seek the election of best qualified candidates, to work for better job opportunities for African-Americans and to assist in the educational process,” said Santini. “They started this group in a time in our history that may [have] had to meet in private, different locations and out of fear that someone or some group would not approve of their club.”
The organization is still in action today, raising money for scholarships, serving as mentors to young men in the community and feeding the hungry on Thanksgiving. Santini acknowledged two charter members of the organization that are still helping better their community today, Arthur Carter and William Robinson.
“In a day when the definition of a hero was often misused and misplaced, these two gentlemen, and all the members of the New Frontier exemplify truly what a hero really is,” said Santini. “They live by the words of Dr. King in that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Santini went on to challenge the audience to follow in the footsteps of New Frontier of Bartow and to take on the hardest of the day’s three goals, to act.
The laying of the wreath was done by Dr. Harvey Palmer, pastor of Alexander Chapell United Methodist Church while taps played in the background.
Participants in the march then continued on their parade route to the Cartersville Civic Center where Rev. Michael Daniel, pastor of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church spoke.
The weekend-long celebration began on Sunday with a candlelight service held at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church with music and singing, Coach Mike Davis, of Fayette County High School was the keynote speaker.