Annual Youth Infusion held on Sunday celebrating King
The celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. Day continued through the previous weekend and into last Monday, and one of those annual events saw Cedartown’s Friendship Baptist Church once again hosted the YWTSA’s MLK Jr. “Youth” Infusion celebration that worked to honor King and those who continue to champion his messages.
A combination of YWTSA members (Youth Working Together for a “Speedy” Awareness) and other community officials presented the MLK Jr. Proclamation, delivered awards, provided entertainment, and honored the newest civil rights trailblazer in the form of Minister Frank Kenneth Jones.
Celebrating under the idea that one should “Discover to Recover the Dream,” Jones was honored for his traits of faith, hard work, and perseverance, among others.
As once described by YWTSA Executive Director Pamela Baker-King, the award is given to those who truly harbor the spirit of social progress.
“It’s an award given to an individual who has overcome the obstacles created by our nation during the post-civil rights movement,” BakerKing said. “These individuals are educated, and they provide services that have made a difference in the lives of others. They collaborate in the dreams of others and help make diversity possible.”
Jones is a Cedartown native who graduated from Douglas High School, received a Bachelor’s of Science from Morehouse College, and graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University.
After working in finance for many years, Jones became the owner of F. K. Jones Funeral Home in Rome where he serves families as a licensed funeral director and embalmer.
Outside of work, the 2019 trailblazer is an associate minister at Lovejoy Baptist Church and is enrolled in the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in their Master of Divinity Program.
Jones demonstrates even further commitment to his community by involving himself with the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, 100 Black Men of Rome, the Georgia Funeral Practitioners Of Georgia, and the Mamie R. Hammock Memorial Scholarship Fund Board of Directors.
Surrounded by his peers and loved ones, Jones was given a plaque after sharing some encouraging words.
“This church has always been special-- Cedartown has always been special,” Jones shared. “I thank God for grandparents. I thank God for my mother. Being raised pretty much by a single parent throughout the years, she had enough foresight to send me to be with my grandparents on the weekend. Life has not always been easy, but I believe in God. I believe that God has not put us here for anything but to do his will and that is to truly trust and love every one of you. I thank you for this award.”
“I’m thankful to be able to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone on. I know that we’re fighting difficult times now in government, but just think about it: we’ve had our own walls we’ve had to overcome ourselves,” he added. “Even though there’s another wall being fought now, we can look back and thank God for Dr. King and all of those who’ve come along for helping us make it over at least the first wall.”
Though King’s ideals live on in the form of those who inspire others such as Jones, the event made powerful efforts to remember King himself and the sacrifices he made for a better country.
Cedartown Commission Chair Matt Foster was invited to read the MLK Jr. Proclamation-- a document that both recognizes January 21 as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and highlights why King remains one of the most important civil rights pioneers of all time.
“…So, on behalf of our city, it is my distinct pleasure to bring before you today a proclamation for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” Foster said. “Whereas, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a native of Georgia and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High school in Atlanta, Georgia. He was ordained to the Baptist Ministry on the 25th of February, 1948 and graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia on the 21st of June, 1948. On June 5, 1955, he received a Doctoral Degree on Systematic Theology from Boston University in Massachusetts.”
Foster prefaced the declaration’s reading with his own words about the importance of today’s youth and how he expected them to amount to great things, too.
“And whereas, Dr. King was known as the drum major for justice that was able to lead our nation to greater heights through love and peace. He wanted to transform the discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of interracial brotherhood, economic justice, and non-violence. On August 28, 1963, he led the famous March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial-- the greatest single demonstration for civil rights in the history of America. He became the youngest recipient of the Novel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964. Whereas, his efforts became the force of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which made it possible for our nation to move closer towards the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. Whereas, on August 22, 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial park was opened to the public located at 1964 Independent Ave., Southwest in Washington DC. The address is symbolic of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Mall honors his national and international contributions and Dr. King’s desire for all to enjoy a life of freedom, opportunity, and justice. 14 quotes from his speeches and sermons are inscribed on the wall. Whereas, the members of YWTSA, a community service organization in Cedartown, Ga whose goal is to motivate and empower by giving youth the opportunity to participate in humanitarian projects, have set the theme of ‘Measure Up.’ Therefore, the city commission of the city of Cedartown does hereby proclaim Monday, the 21st of January, 2019, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We encourage all the citizens of Cedartown to work together to unite in their efforts by serving others and join in the celebration honoring the life and the legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday.”
The evening’s entertainment further highlighted how the group appreciated and took King’s messages of diversity to heart. Gospel songs and hymns were proceeded by traditional Latin and Hispanic songs and dances by members of St. Bernadette Catholic Church who came to support the event, and regardless of ethnicity or background, the guests closed the event by joining hands and singing together.
While thanks are owed to special guests such as Georgia State Representative Trey Kelley, each of the former trailblazers, and the numerous other speakers and volunteers, few spoke with such passion and vigor as Keynote Speaker Apostle Trixie Morgan who- through tears and shouts- spoke the final words of the evening.
“I’ve discovered and I’ve recovered,” Morgan said. “I know who I am, and I’m gonna finish my course. If I have to do it crying, I’ll cry. I’m gonna get up and dry my tears. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, keep moving. Anybody else gonna keep moving? Is there anybody else in here that’s gonna keep moving? Don’t you stop and don’t you give up. God bless you. Discover to recover the dream.”
Dancers provided entertainment during the annual YWTSA MLK Youth Parade of Talent on Sunday.
Top: The annual Cedartown Commission-approved Martin Luther King Jr. proclamation was presented with the help of youth during the YWTSA’s annual event on Sunday. Above: Cedartown Commission Chair Matt Foster presented the YWTSA with a proclamation passed by the city honoring Martin Luther King Jr.