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Celebrations honor civil rights leader King

Staff report

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LUMBERTON — Across the county a number of churches and municipalities are holding special events to commemorate the birthday of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr., whose success at bringing about social change through peaceful activism inspired the creation of a federal holiday in 1983.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day has since been observed on the third Monday of January each year. This year it falls on Monday.


King is considered by many to be among the most important civil rights leaders in American history, having led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, organized nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Ala., in 1962 and helped organize the March on Washington in 1963, where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.”


King’s life was cut short in 1968, when on April 4 the 39-year-old King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.


The Robeson County chapter of the Black Caucus will hold its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at noon on Monday at the First Baptist Church in Lumberton. The church is located on Second Street, and its pastor is the Rev. T. R. Murray.


The guest speaker will be the Rev. Victor L. Wilson, pastor of Lisbon Street Missionary Baptist Church in Clinton. He is a native of Wilmington, Del.


Wilson has been serving churches in various states, including California, New Mexico, New York and North Carolina, for more than 25 years. He is an active member of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., having served as a prison ministry commissioner and teacher.


Wilson graduated from high school in California. He holds a degree in mortuary science and is currently working on a Masters of Divinity degree at Shaw Divinity School.


Maxton will hold its annual Martin Luther King celebration beginning at 1 p.m. in the gym of the R.B. Elementary School on Baldwin Street. The theme of this year’s event, sponsored by SAGES (Seniors Aging Gratefully, Enthusiastically and Spirited — is “The Year of the Children.”


The event will include comments from elected and other community officials, as well as musical presentations by church and community youth organizations.


The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Bryant Dixon, pastor of Followers of Christ Church in Maxton.


Immediately after the program there will be a march from the school through the downtown. Marchers will stop at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and Patterson Street and sing “We Shall Overcome” before making their way back to the school.


Anyone who cannot walk in the march is welcome to follow marchers in a vehicle.


Fairmont will hold a day of service that is being called a “gospel extravaganza” on Monday starting at 1 p.m. at the South Robeson Heritage Center on South Main Street. Refreshments will be provided at no charge. On hand will be gospel singers and dance groups from local churches. Pastor Rex Anderson of the First Baptist Church North will be the keynote speaker.


Red Spring’s annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be held today at 6 p.m., in Rhyne Memorial United Methodist Church on Fourth Avenue. Red Springs’ officials, local pastors, and host pastor the Rev. Dora Dorsey will be in attendance.

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