Photo by Sue Watson
Dale DeBerry (standing) visits with Edwin Smith and Luberta Smith.
Photos by Sue Watson
From left (back) are Carlton Smith (guest speaker), Delia Reed, Mayor Kelvin Buck, Edwin Smith, Mozell Kelley, Nellie Smith, Fannie Smith, Eric Smith; and (front) and Luberta Smith (seated), Daniel and Ariel Scott (Edwin and Fannie’s grandchildren) and Janis Hightower.
Those participating in the Martin Luther King Day program are, from left, Michael Johnson (Scripture reading), Deldrick Leasure (prayer), Ejeera Joiner Dukes (greetings), George Zinn III (emcee), Carlton Smith (guest speaker), Johnquail Lyons (Rust College chapter NAACP), Mozell Kelley (treasurer) and Nellie Smith (who is pictured at the podium).
Pictured enjoying the event January 15 at the Eddie L. Smith Multi-Purpose Building are Cherriel Hall, Christine Ratcliff and Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck.
Members of the AKA sorority served breakfast. The service sorority is 110 years old.
‘To live the dream, we must first act upon it’
The 33rd Annual Commemoration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. drew a crowd of about 100 to the Eddie Lee Smith Multi-Purpose Building January 15.
Road conditions following a three-day freeze hindered attendance this year, but spirit was not diminished.
Matthew 5: 43-45 was the Scripture reading by Rev. Michael Johnson.
• “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Rev. Deldrick Leasure led the prayer, and Ejeera Joiner Dukes read the greetings.
Dukes said MLK Day helps people to acknowledge “how far we’ve come as a people and a nation, but also, just how far we have to go.”
Mozell Kelley, NAACP treasurer, noted four questions Dr. King recommended one ask before taking a position – Is it safe?, Is it polite?, Is it popular?, Is it right?”
Dr. King fought against injustice
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King wrote from his jail cell.
King, who took the front row in fighting for justice, was a “king,” a martyr, and a preacher who asked, ‘What are you doing for others?’ said emcee George Zinn III.
Guest speaker was Carlton Smith, son of Luberta Smith and the late Eddie Lee Smith. His father was the first black mayor in Holly Springs, serving from 1989 to 2001.
Smith, a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 1 Mississippi, presented a review of his life, his education, and his appreciation of the NAACP, its work to get voting rights for African Americans, and King’s struggles.
Smith became a parish minister in 1995 and retired from pastoring in 2013 to take an administrative position with the Unitarian Universalist Church.
He said Marshall County NAACP is one of the oldest chapters in the state. And the chapter played a key role in COFO, SCLC, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Mississippi blacks established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and Freedom Summer was held in 1964. A local freedom school was established on the corner at Rust College.
Smith was born in 1964. He attended CADET elementary school, Holly Springs Intermediate School at the Sims campus, and then graduated from Holly Springs High School in 1982.
He attended Howard and earned a bachelor’s in marketing, then returned to Howard to earn a master’s in divinity.
Smith said an unbroken thread connects us all.
“We are caught up in a single garment of destiny,” he said. “This is a moment of extreme grace to be with you today.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the life of a black American who dared to dream what this country could be. The challenges we face today are immense, but our lives would be different if not for Dr. King.
“To live the dream, we must first act upon it. A dream is an aspiration, an ideal. You can rise above your circumstances.”
The country and state would not be what they are today if not for Martin Luther King, Smith said.
“It is important to live the dream even when people say your life and their lives don’t matter,” he said.
Smith said often people outside of Mississippi want to embarrass those who are from Mississippi.
“I say this country would not be the same if it were not for Ida B. Wells Barnett and Medgar Evers,” Smith said.
King endured a stabbing at a book signing, was betrayed by his own people, and some of his colleagues were jealous of him, Smith said.
He related how a few stood in protest against an Alt Right march at Robert E. Lee’s statue.
“We were vulnerable in some ways and in some ways we were invincible,” Smith said. “We are not all called to the prophetic stage. We are called to have that little bit of faith that lets us step out on our faith.”