Sun­day cel­e­bra­tion

I Have a Dream, Trail­blazer awards, Schol­ar­ship given out

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

For the 26th year, Newton County res­i­dents and of­fi­cials gath­ered Sun­day to honor the me­mory of Martin Luther King Jr. by cel­e­brat­ing the works of two long­time county ser­vants who help keep his spirit alive.

County Recre­ation Di­rec­tor Tommy Hai­ley and Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church’s Sum­mer Feed­ing En­rich­ment Pro­gram were named the 2011 re­cip­i­ents of the I Have a Dream and MLK Trail­blazer awards. Ox­ford Col­lege stu­dent Ral­ston Me­douze was rec­og­nized for hav­ing re­ceived the 2010 MLK Schol­ar­ship.

I Have a Dream Award

The Rev. Harold Cobb, the an­nual or­ga­nizer of the event, in­tro­duced the I Have a Dream Award by paint­ing a mental pic­ture of Cov­ing­ton in 1953. Seg­re­ga­tion per­me­ated ev­ery seg­ment of life, from restau­rants to schools. Streets in black neigh­bor­hoods re­mained un­paved and blacks were not al­lowed to en­ter the Cov­ing­ton and Por­terdale mills ex­cept for work. That was also the year Tommy Hai­ley was born.

“But some­thing hap­pened in 1953 that would change Newton County for­ever. Through a child, hear me now, born in Por­terdale, ed­u­cated in the Newton County School Sys­tem,” Cobb said. “He went off to col­lege and re­turned with an ed­u­ca­tion and a vi­sion. He be­gan to work this vi­sion in the only way that God would al­low him. Be­cause he, too, had a vi­sion that lit­tle white boys and girls and lit­tle black boys and girls would play to­gether in or­ga­nized sports. He used what was seg­re­gated and in­te­grated, the hearts of the chil­dren first, thus chang­ing the minds of the par­ents.”

Cobb also spoke of Hai­ley’s ef­forts to bring a Mir­a­cle League field to Newton County to al­low dis­abled chil­dren a place to play base­ball. For all of those rea­sons, Hai­ley was rec­og­nized as a “cit­i­zen of Newton County whose car­ing and con­cern has kept Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream alive.”

“I came here think­ing I was just go­ing to set a pre­sen­ta­tion up,” Hai­ley said. “Rev. Cobb was one of the rea­sons I came back; he was at the time on the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, through their vote and their abil­ity to hire me. I thank him for that, and I will never for­get that.

“I want to just say thank you to the (se­lec­tion) com­mit­tee too, for your vi­sion and fore­sight to keep Dr. King’s legacy and work here in Newton County go­ing. As we cel­e­brate his birth­day to­day, I’m hum­bled by re­ceiv­ing this award, and I know he’s look­ing down to­day at this cel­e­bra­tion and say­ing ‘Great job Newton County, great job.’ Thank you. I’ll al­ways cher­ish this.”

MLK Trail­blazer Award

The MLK Trail­blazer Award is given to rec­og­nize “a cit­i­zen or agency in Newton County that suc­ceeded in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of its cit­i­zenry” said the Rev. Billy Wade, of the First Pres­by­te­rian Church of Cov­ing­ton.

“When the doors of schools were closed for the sum­mer, many chil­dren emerge as an ob­vi­ous part of the cit­i­zenry who’re of­ten left with­out su­per­vi­sion, and we know that idle minds of­ten lead to in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior,” Wade said.

It was for that rea­son that the Rev. Hezekiah Benton and church mem­ber Hazel Bo­stick con­vinced the com­mu­nity of Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church to be­gin a sum­mer youth feed­ing and en­rich­ment pro­gram 20 years ago. The pro­gram con­tin­ues, though Bo­stick has since passed away.

“Over­whelm­ingly, we ac­cepted the state­ment of try­ing to do some min­istry for the chil­dren whose par­ents weren’t there, to give them a hot lunch and keep them out of trou­ble, but also that we could con­duct an en­trance into a sum­mer learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” Benton said. “I ac­cept this award on be­half of our church, for our com­mu­nity and again I know Ms. Hazel Bo­stick is look­ing down, be­cause she blessed us with this sum­mer min­istry.”

2010 MLK Schol­ar­ship

Ox­ford stu­dent Ral­ston Me­douze re­ceived a nearly $50,000 schol­ar­ship to pay for his two years at Ox­ford, as well as two years at Emory Uni­ver­sity in At­lanta. He said he ap­plied for the schol­ar­ship so that his col­lege ed­u­ca­tion would not be a fi­nan­cial bur­den on his par­ents.

“I’m very grate­ful to be a re­cip­i­ent, be­cause with­out it, it would have been very tough for me,” Me­douze said.

Sev­eral groups sup­port the an­nual schol­ar­ship, in­clud­ing Bethel Grove Bap­tist Church in Mans­field, Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church, Bethabara Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church, C.R. Bard, Chi Tau Omega Chap­ter of Al­pha Kappa Al­pha Soror­ity, Josephine B. Brown and the Rev. and Mrs. Harold Cobb.

Brit­tany Thomas/The Cov­ing­ton News

Spir­ited speak­ers: Key­note speaker the Rev. Sharma Lewis, su­per­in­ten­dent of the At­lanta-De­catur-Ox­ford District of the United Methodist Church, led the Martin Luther King Jr. ser­vice on Sun­day at the Porter Me­mo­rial Au­di­to­rium at Newton High School.

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