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Martin Luther King Jr. event held for local scholars

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

The Rev. Vincent Windrow told a crowd of about 210 this past Sunday afternoon that while Martin Luther King Jr. articulated the dream of equality for all, he wasn’t the first to dream it.

“Millions dreamed it before him, millions who desired to breathe free. Millions on slave ships dreamed of freedom,” he said.

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During his speech at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force of Wilson County Scholarship program, he added that while the inauguration of the first black U.S. President was a wonder that took the ceiling from above black children’s dreams, it was not the fulfillment of King’s dream.

“It will only be fulfilled when everyone is living the dream,” he said. “We need to stand tall, with our chest out and our head high, not defined by yesterday, but defined by who God is and who’s we are.”

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead also got a few cheers when he read a proclamation from the City of Lebanon.

It said in part, “This is a day for love not hate, a day for understanding, a day for peace not war, all over the world, if only for one day. A day to prove peace is not a dream, but a real possibility, if only for one day.”

He then proclaimed Jan. 20, 2009 as Martin Luther King Day in Lebanon.

When Craighead left the stage, the Master of Ceremonies for the event, the Rev. Leonard Jordan, added, “If it’s possible for one day then we can do it for two and if two, then three. This is the beginning.”

Later, Windrow brought cheers and applause from the crowd when he pointed out that all God’s people are valuable.

“God thinks I’m valuable. My mind is valuable, my body is valuable. My dreams are valuable,” he thundered.

Then in a much quieter voice, he added, “I grew up in poverty. I never knew my father. I had a very low sense of self-worth. But somewhere along the line I learned, I don’t have to be poor and unhappy. I, too, am an American, my dreams and aspirations are valid.”

He also pointed out that having changed laws doesn’t necessarily change minds and hearts. But if we ask, he said, “God will make the change.”

“I, too, am an American” is from a Langston Hughes poem and Windrow also told a story about how Hughes became a writer. He went to New York City intending to go to Columbia University to learn to be an engineer. His father had already paid the tuition, but a combination of prejudice and his own lack of interest in engineering led him to a different future.

Hughes wanted to write, but he had no money and no one to support his dreams, Windrow said. However, Hughes’ landlady, Miss Dorsey, took note of his problems and shared her life experiences with Hughes. It changed his life, Windrow pointed out.

He then told his audience that each person has that power, to change lives by caring, noticing and taking time to encourage others.

He added that the inauguration of President Barack Obama should be an inspiration to encourage, inspire and teach others that they are valuable and that their dreams can come true if they just don’t give up.

“I have discovered that the Lord will make a way, somehow,” he said. “I don’t know how, but I know He will make a way, somehow.”

Following his speech, five local young people got a bit of help making their dreams come true.

Taja Coggins, Deleisha Palmer, Keenen Dye and Shelly Billie from Lebanon High School and Jasmine Hassell from Wilson Central High School each received a $1,000 scholarship to attend the college of their choice.

Dye was also awarded the Rev. Harry Alexander Achievement Award as most exemplifying the traits and goals of Alexander who was one of the founders of the scholarship program as well as director of the first Scholarship Committee.

Dye, who has a 4.25 grade point average and scored a 28 on his ACT college exam, plans to study Biomedical Engineering or Pharmacy. He is also the captain of the LHS football team and is on the staff of both “LHS Today” and the LHS newspaper, The Devils’ Advocate.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

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