Written by The New Pittsburgh Courier
FROM THE MOUTH OF BABES—Paige Vannoy reads her award winning speech to the attendees.
by Abdul Al-Nakhli
(Beaver Falls)—Dr. Martin Luther King’s mission was remembered, as The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee held their annual Oratorical Banquet Sunday evening at the Holiday Inn.
“Dr. King’s vision lives through the youth and in the community,” said Eugenia Waldron Priest, coordinator. “Our annual banquet is our way of showing our appreciation and support for the youth and members who continue to live what Dr. King always dreamed would come to fruition.”
This year’s festivities began with the introduction of the student winners and their parents, followed by the Negro National Hymn, conducted by Teresa Massey from First Baptist Church in Freedom, and a youth welcome and prayer from Destiny Smith and Niko Amir Simmons.
Following an entertaining puppet ministry from Second Baptist Church, Minister Bobby Jones, who served as the student leader, welcomed each of the student winners to give their winning speeches to the attendees. Through the speeches, it was apparent not only did they understand the importance of King’s vision, but realized it is far from fruition.
“Even though Dr. King accomplished, his dream is not quite complete,” said Joziah Council, the first place winner of the 8th grade category. “He (King) is not present to stand up for these things, and this means we have to take a stand for these things and approach it with the same willingness and courage as Dr. King did. We should make it our own responsibility to complete his dream.”
Continuing the dream of King was a shared theme amongst the winners, and carried to those honored with awards of excellence from Sen. Elder Vogel and State Representative Rob Matzie. For Stacey Brock, who was honored with the Teacher of Excellence Award, it is vital for the vision to continue on.
“Dr. King said you don’t fight darkness with darkness, only light. I hope that I can continue to be a light as a teacher,” said an honored Brock.
Other members honored were Gospel quartet the Sons of Thunder with the Spiritual Song Bird Award, and Mayor Dwan Walker, Aliquippa, with the Coordinator Award.
It was a night of remembrance and continued building of the future. There was a room filled with hope, love, and encouragement. In a night that honored the oratorical contest winners from last November’s competition and leaders of the community, the essence of Dr. King’s dream was very much alive.