Caroline celebrates Dr. King’s legacy
DENTON — A large crowd gathered in Denton on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16, to celebrate the civil rights leader’s legacy and ideals.
This was the sixth year for the event, held when schools are closed in observation of the federal holiday marking King’s birthday, called a “day on, instead of a day off” by event cochairs Wanda Molock and Janet Fountain.
This year’s celebration began with a program at Lockerman Middle School, continued with a march to the Caroline County Circuit Courthouse to hear a recitation of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and closed with a gathering at Union Bethel A.M.E. Church.
“As Dr. King said, if you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving,” Fountain said in her welcoming remarks. “We shall continue to move forward together.”
Molock said her favorite quote of King’s is, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“We are here today to serve,” Molock said. “We wanted the children of Caroline County to have something to do on Martin Luther King Day instead of a day off.”
Denton Town Councilmember Keith Johnson said King, throughout his
career, never wavered in his belief and pursuit of everyone’s God-given rights.
“He was persecuted and threatened, but he kept after his dream,” Johnson said. “Will you make that commitment, to love each other?”
Caroline County Commissioner Wilbur Levengood said everyone is called to service for their own families, communities and nation.
“Martin Luther King Jr. brought people together,” Levengood said. “Individual action is important, but we can do far more together.”
Caroline County Board of Education President James Newcomb thanked Fountain and Molock for creating the event.
“As divisive as we think things are when we watch the news, there’s more that brings us together,” Newcomb said. “We have to continue to build that community like we have here in Caroline County.”
Lockerman School Association President Dale Brown also thanked Fountain and Molock for their leadership in the event, on behalf of both the school association and the Maryland Eastern Shore Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, of which many members were also in attendance.
Brown said King was one of the most influential figures in the history of both the U.S. and the world.
“His dream was a powerful one, followed with dedication, faith and perseverance,” Brown said.
Brown said, at the same event last year, he asked everyone to set goals for higher service throughout the coming year. He asked them to think about whether or not those goals were met, and then to do the same this year.
“Don’t just be a dreamer, but be a doer,” Brown said. “Please continue to live out his legacy every single day.”
Caroline County NAACP President Berl Lovelace said it has been nearly 50 years since King was assassinated in 1968, making events like the one held in Denton increasingly important.
“There are generations born since, who don’t know him as a living being,” Lovelace said. “We must remember everyone whose shoulders we stepped on to get where we are today.”
Lovelace said he had been thinking about what it was like, living in the 1950s, ‘60s and early ‘70s.
“I will not go back,” Lovelace said. “Will you?”
Fountain introduced Denton Walmart Manager Bill Duffy, who Fountain said has been more than generous, donating food and other supplies every year to the event.
Duffy said he and Walmart are honored to be included in the event.
“Wanda and Janet are very passionate about what they want this to be,” he said.
Molock recognized all the partners and organizations that came out for the event: Churches, sororities, Caroline County agencies and departments, local businesses, civic organizations and schools.
The Lockerman Middle School jazz band played three selections.
The program at the middle school closed with a prayer by the Rev. Pearl Geter of Union Bethel A.M.E. Church, who prayed that the “cords of love that bind us together are stronger than the tentacles of hate trying to pull us apart.”
With that, the crowd gathered outside the school for the march, escorted by the Denton Police Department, to the courthouse green.
On the steps of the courthouse, the Rev. Cornelius Berry of New Beginnings United Methodist Church in Ridgely led the crowd in a song, before Sammy Scott recited part of King’s speech.
Attendees were then invited to Bethel A.M.E. Church.
The march continued on Market Street toward the Caroline County Circuit Courthouse.
After marching from Lockerman Middle School to the Caroline County Circuit Courthouse, the crowd gathers in front to sing and hear a recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.