MLK Birthday Celebration, 2016
CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted a free celebration in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday on Monday in the Allegany College of Maryland Zimmer Theatre.
"I'm a child of the '60s and I'm a very, very active civil rights activist," said Carmen Jackson, president of the Allegany County branch of NAACP. "My mother was the first black woman to run for Congresswoman in the United States, so I marched under Dr. Martin Luther King as a child."
Jackson started the celebration last year with the Allegany County Board of Education and Democracy Commitment of Allegany College of Maryland as co-sponsors. The event remains the only MLK Day event in the county.
"Every area needs to celebrate this day," said Lynn Bowman, member of the Democracy Commitment at ACM. "Too often we skip over this day and come up with excuses for not lifting people up, but when you have a person like Dr. King that changed the way future generations thought, you need to lift that person up."
The theme for this year's celebration was "Freedom is Not Free: Give Peace a Chance," featuring a dramatized rendition of King's "I Have a Dream" speech by Pastor Darin Mency.
"When you hear him (Pastor Mency), you can close your eyes and you think you're there," said county NAACP member Diana Beverlin. "I heard Dr. Martin Luther King on the television in 1963, and to hear Pastor Mency do it, it's like listening to him (King) do it."
In addition to the speech, awards were given out to individuals at the ceremony, including the Community Service Award presented to Bowman. More than a member of the Democracy Commitment of ACM, Bowman has written three books on African history in the county and is an associate professor of English and speech at ACM.
"I'm delighted to help put together this event," said Bowman. "It brings together the entire community."
Students from Frankfort Middle School's steel drum ensemble, Teal Steel, performed celebration songs at the event including, "Island in the Sun," a Jamaican folk melody.
"This is my first time playing here at the Martin Luther King event," said Frankfort Middle eighth-grader Tyler Corwell. "And I think he (King) was of great importance in American history."
Jackson hopes the event will continue and grow for many years, and stresses the importance of Dr. King's legacy.
"If we don't learn from our past, we are going to repeat it," said Jackson. "We don't need to go backwards, we are moving forward well and we need to continue to move forward."
The photograph is of Pastor Darin Mency of the Greater Campher Temple (King's Apostles Holiness Church,) Hagerstown, Maryland
astor Darin Mency of the Greater Campher Temple (King's Apostles Holiness Church,) Hagerstown, Maryland
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008