By Louie Graves
The keynote speaker for the 2018 MLK celebration in Nashville told his audience that “sometimes you have to go back before you can go forward.”
He related events from the lives of Jesus Christ and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which echoed that message. The speaker was Nashville native Gabe Green, a Tyson supervisor and associate pastor in Tollette. He talked about Dr. King’s dream, and about the sometimes harsh realities of his life.
He said that people needed to go back to old values and morals in order to go forward. The speaker was introduced by his mother, Margie Green, first lady of the Tollette church and a member of the Howard Memorial Hospital board of directors.
The 11th annual local MLK program had a sparse audience in the sanctuary of New Light CME Church, owing to forecast of severe weather.
The mistress of ceremonies was Jimmie White, who is a mainstay in the organization of the annual event. She recalled how herself, the late Bonnie Haislip, Debra Marshall and Geneva Walton started the observance here after attending one in Texarkana. She also warned the keynote speaker that because of his role this year, he would be expected to serve as master of ceremonies for the 2019 MLK celebration.
In addition to commemorating the national holiday for the assassinated civil rights leader, the 2018 MLK event also marks the 50th anniversary of his death in Memphis at the hands of a gunman. One of the participants, Deb Marshall, said that there were no nominations for the annual Alston Award, and that none would be presented. Instead, she talked about the woman for whom the award is named.
On the day before her death, Alston wrote a will making sure that her slaves would be taken to a free state and gain their own freedom. She also provided for them in their transition to freedom. The program traditionally opens with the singing of all verses of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and closes with the singing of “We Shall Overcome.”
The host pastor, Rev. Elrod Stewart said that a greater effort had to be made to convey the importance of the event and the life of Dr. King to younger persons.
The weather wasn’t the only reason attendance was sparse, he said. Other participants in the program included a former Alston Award winner, Phillip Walton, Nashville City Council member Vivian Wright, choirs from New Light CME Church and the Dodson Street Church of Christ. Nashville Junior High student Bailey Wiley read an original poem, and brothers Robert and Noel Dunham contributed a musical number.