“This is an annual community event that we do and one of the main reasons we do it is because not only do we want to remember, we want to celebrate. Because the things that Dr. King stood for, actually and honestly a lot of people feel the same way,” said Linda Kellogg, chairperson of the local Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, “because they do not like violence and hatred and they do believe in service, especially in this community.
“Education was high with him and we need to keep that to the forefront. So we don’t want it just to be a candlelight service and a parade and a program, we want it to be a day of service on that Monday. ... As Dr. King [said], everybody can be great because they can serve and that is a true statement.”
A federal and state holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks the slain Civil Rights leader’s birthday and is recognized on the third Monday in January. While it has been more than 45 years since King was assassinated, Kellogg said it is important to celebrate his life and legacy, noting that his message still is relevant today.
“What Dr. King’s legacy means to me is No. 1, I know a lot of things have made a difference in my life because of some things that he lived and died for,” Kellogg said. “For instance, equality [as far as] jobs and the way that I feel about education. ... I do believe if you get an education it can take you places. Also I’m nonviolent and I definitely have a problem with [violence].
“I think that more so than ever, especially when it comes to the youth, there are a lot of things going on now, [such as] anger and bullying and all this stuff, and it’s so against what Dr. King stood for. And I want that message to get back out there. We talk about it a lot in our little circles, but on this weekend it really needs to be emphasized. Violence is not the way for anything.”
On Sunday, the King Holiday Weekend Celebration will begin with a 6 p.m. candlelight service at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 147 Jones St. in Cartersville, featuring the Rev. Louis Tonsmeire as the keynote speaker. The festivities will continue on Monday with a youth rally at 10 a.m. at St. Luke A.M.E. Church, 130 Jones St. in Cartersville. Youth will pay tribute to King’s life with songs, skits, poetry and dance.
Also held on Monday will be a Brotherhood March at 2 p.m. Participants will assemble at the Cartersville Civic Center — 435 W. Main St. — at 1:15 p.m. Grand Marshals Forrest and Bessie Green will lead the procession to the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 W. Cherokee Ave. After a wreath-laying ceremony, the crowd will return to the civic center for a Brotherhood March Program that will feature a message from the Rev. John S. Lampley, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
“[I] plan to talk about the sense of solidarity in the community in the Cartersville area, the strengths and weaknesses of it, and what we can do to better increase solidarity in the communities in Cartersville,” Lampley said. “One of the [reasons this is important] is it was one of the [prime focal points] of Martin Luther King.
“... What is equal rights? What does that mean? What does that transpire to after legal aspects? How do we treat one another? What does that feel like? Those are the kinds of things that I plan to help us look at and evaluate because I think they’re very important to a community like Cartersville that’s growing so fast in diversity.”
For more information about the King Holiday Weekend Celebration, call 770-382-7951 or 770-865-1797.