Cel­e­bra­tion keeps civil rights icon’s legacy alive

Record Observer - - News - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com

WYE MILLS — It was a birth­day party, wor­ship ser­vice and home­com­ing all rolled into one. But mostly it was a cel­e­bra­tion of the work, min­istry and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Re­tired math teacher Made­lyn Hol­lis con­tin­ued her mis­sion of keep­ing the civil rights leader’s mem­ory and legacy alive with a pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion. This year, about 175 peo­ple at­tended the cel­e­bra­tion that be­gan at noon Jan. 16 at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege’s Todd Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter in Wye Mills.

“The Dreamer’s Dream Must Never Die” was the theme of the event that fea­tured song, sto­ries and dance from lo­cal per­form­ers and wor­ship lead­ers, many of whom were taught by Hol­lis dur­ing her 33-year teach­ing ca­reer.

Hol­lis, 89, was part of the van­guard of black teach­ers who helped in­te­grate Queen Anne’s County schools in 1965-1966, be­gin­ning her ca­reer in the county at the all-black Ken­nard High School, and con­tin­u­ing at the then-new con­sol­i­dated Queen Anne’s County High School.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth­day be­came a fed­eral hol­i­day in 1986, and two years later, Hol­lis planned the first of 24 non-con­sec­u­tive cel­e­bra­tions to honor King’s achieve­ments and in­spi­ra­tion on that day.

The cel­e­bra­tion com­mit­tee raises funds and awards text­book schol­ar­ships. About 150 pa­trons were listed in the pro­gram and two col­lege stu­dents who re­ceived schol­ar­ships thanked the com­mit­tee and en­cour­aged the au­di­ence to give to the fund.

Lo­cal pas­tors took part in the cel­e­bra­tion, and the mas­ter of cer­e­monies, Rev. Clarence Rochester, has Queen Anne’s County roots, Hol­lis said. Rochester in­tro­duced each per­former and group by en­cour­ag­ing the au­di­ence to “show them some love.” Through­out the cel­e­bra­tion, he quoted some of King’s most fa­mous writ­ings and speeches.

The au­di­ence en­thu­si­as­ti­cally clapped and joined in the singing, har­mo­niz­ing as they sang well-known praise songs and tra­di­tional spir­i­tu­als.

Peo­ple of all ages at­tended, and chil­dren who or­di­nar­ily would have been in school took part in Mon­day’s cel­e­bra­tion as per­form­ers and au­di­ence mem­bers.

As the au­di­ence gath­ered and found their seats, the New Life Methodist Men from Centreville and the well-known Burke Fam­ily Singers per­formed gospel fa­vorites.

The cel­e­bra­tion of­fi­cially be­gan with what has been called the black na­tional an­them, “Lift Ev­ery Voice.” Rev. Clarence Way­man’s invocation asked that the con­gre­ga­tion be filled with joy dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion.

Praise dances were per­formed by 10-year-old Ke’myia Camper and three sis­ters who called their group An­chored Prayz from Abun­dant Life Restora­tion Min­istries. Camper drew a stand­ing ova­tion as well the Reed sis­ters, Ana­iah, 10, Keilah, 8, and An­nah, 6.

The QACHS Dance team per­formed jazz and hip-hop rou­tines to the de­light of the au­di­ence.

Other mu­si­cians and singers per­formed, in­clud­ing Friends in Faith, Tri-Life Com­mu­nity Church’s praise and wor­ship team, Terra Deaton and Naryah Miles.

Wen­dell Burke read a poem that he wrote on the day’s theme, al­lud­ing to Langston Hughes’ poem that “A Dream De­ferred” must never die.

Clos­ing re­marks were of­fered by Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege pres­i­dent Dr. Bar­bara Viniar who cited Deuteron­omy 16, re­mind­ing the au­di­ence that, “in spite of the bar­ri­ers and in spite of re­cent times, we need to pur­sue jus­tice.”

Hol­lis con­cluded the ser vice with thanks to all who helped and par­tic­i­pated. Af­ter Rev. Karen Dize gave the bene­dic­tion, the au­di­ence filed out to the lobby for re­fresh­ments and fel­low­ship.

The cel­e­bra­tion was par­tially sup­ported by the Queen Anne’s De­part­ment of Health Cig­a­rette Resti­tu­tion Fund Pro­gram.

This year’s MLK cel­e­bra­tion com­mit­tee mem­bers were Hol­lis, Ralph Deaton, Doris B. Brown, Paulette Jones, Ruth Hol­lis, El­der Kia Reed, Dr. Bar­bara Hayes, Dorine Fas­sett, Rev. Janet Rochester, Wil­lie Pauls, Iwoyna Brown and Genevieve Kennedy.

Ac­cord­ing to Bri­tan­nica.com, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.was born Jan­uary 15, 1929, in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, and was as­sas­si­nated on April 4, 1968, in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee.

“(He was a) Bap­tist min­is­ter and so­cial ac­tivist who led the civil rights move­ment in the United States from the mid1950s un­til his death.” Bri­tan­nica.com said. “His lead­er­ship was fun­da­men­tal to that move­ment’s suc­cess in end­ing the le­gal seg­re­ga­tion of African Amer­i­cans in the South and other parts of the United States. King rose to na­tional promi­nence as head of the South­ern Chris­tian Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence, which pro­moted non­vi­o­lent tac­tics, such as the mas­sive March on Wash­ing­ton (1963), to achieve civil rights. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 1964.”


The peren­ni­ally fa­vorite Burke Fam­ily Singers were just one group who per­formed at the 24th Martin Luther King Cel­e­bra­tion at Todd Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter in Wye Mills on Jan. 16.


The Queen Anne’s County Dance Team per­formed a hip-hop num­ber dur­ing the the 24th Martin Luther King Cel­e­bra­tion on Jan. 16 at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege. Team coaches are Takiyah Bar­ney and Am­ber Demby.


Queen Anne’s County na­tive Rev. Clarence Rochester was the mas­ter of cer­e­monies of the 24th Martin Luther King Cel­e­bra­tion on Jan. 16 at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege. He is pas­tor of Mount Si­nai Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church in Cam­bridge.


Ten-year-old Ke’myia Camper wowed the au­di­ence with her praise dance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Cel­e­bra­tion on Jan. 16 at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege.


Re­tired Queen Anne’s County math teacher Made­lyn Hol­lis, founder of the Martin Luther King Cel­e­bra­tion, has or­ga­nized the pop­u­lar event for 24 years.

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