Sun shines on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Lewisburg
By Karen Hall
In contrast to previous years, when marchers and speakers endured cold and rain to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Lewisburg, Monday was a warm and sunny winter day.
"When I see such a beautiful day I know God is good," said keynote speaker Dr. Larry Thomas, who talked about King's legacy and noted that he is the only non-president to be honored with a monument on the National Mall. King was the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Thomas reminded listeners, but, true to his character, gave the prize money to civil rights organizations.
"Dr. King would be proud of you today, Marshall County," Thomas said.
"We've got children to raise, and we need to ask our politicians to bring jobs to Marshall County," he continued. "You've got to be proactive. If we're going to pay taxes, we deserve equal pay."
Thomas gave examples of the "racial injustice that surrounds our community" -- African-Americans who had been passed over promotion or pushed out of office. Listeners applauded and cheered him on with cries of "Sounding good!"
"This didn't happen in the '60s," he exclaimed. "It happened two or three years ago."
As for the future, Thomas said, "Parents have got to start being parents. You've got to get down on your knees and pray with your children. God can do anything, and we are God's people."
He urged community members to stick together, warning, "The greatest trick of all is to separate you."
All the children in the crowd, enjoying a day off school for the federal holiday, were called to the steps on the east side of the courthouse.
"This is our future," said Thomas, pointing to the children, who remained there while Makell Sain sang a freedom song, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."
When Lewisburg City Councilman Steve Thomas returned to center stage to close the proceedings he announced in the spring all the local churches would come and circle the square in prayer, and this was greeted with loud cheers and applause.
"Marshall County's going to have the biggest prayer circle its ever seen," Steve Thomas exclaimed.
"We look forward to that day," said Marshall County NAACP President Gary Davis. "I dream the whole community will come together in love and unity. We must continue to do what is right. If we mistreat people here, heaven will not be our home."
Also speaking at the Monday ceremony were County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett, City Mayor Jim Bingham, Register of Deeds Dorris Wayne Weaver, and Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Foster.
Elly Dalton -- representing Robert Dalton, who is running for the office of Public Defender -- was there with voter registration forms.
"It's going to be a huge ballot," she said.
"Get registered and vote," urged Davis, to loud applause.
During his speech, Larry Thomas pointed out there is "not one minority of the school board" since Ann Tears lost a close race for election in 2012.
"We're going to get her re-elected," Thomas said.