Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations Impact Many Across Region

By: Sarah Sager Email
By: Sarah Sager Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day impacted many at celebration events throughout the region.

Almost 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. first spoke about his dream.

Stella Whitlow from Ashland, Ky., has watched as Dr. King's dream has blossomed into a reality.

"When I first came to Ashland, we couldn't go to the movies and we had four of them," Whitlow said.

Whitlow, along with nearly 100 others, attended a Monday morning service in honor of Dr. King at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“When I was going to school, we went to a segregated school. I loved my segregated school, but we need to honor him because he did a great thing. He suffered a lot for people who didn't appreciate what was going on. The young people need to know," Whitlow said.

Dr. Hazo Carter, who's with the West Virginia Martin Luther King Commission, is working to ensure King’s dream lives on. Dr. Carter attended a service at West Virginia’s Capital Thursday.

"When we look back on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., we realize that at 39 he paid the ultimate sacrifice for his commitment to justice and fairness of all people," Carter said.

This anniversary, University of Charleston student Christina Smith feels lucky someone stood up for her rights.

"Nowadays you can walk down the street and hold hands with a white person or a person of a different race, just like Martin Luther King's dream described," Smith said.

"It's a dream out there that people continue to live today. We've come so far in this state and this country, but we still have a ways to go," West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said.

Nearly 100 people also celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Huntington. The Huntington-Cabell NAACP held its annual Civil Rights March beginning at the 16th Street Baptists Church. The march continued to the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center at Marshall University, where the play “The Meeting” was performed Monday evening.

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