Parade, celebration held to honor Dr. Martin Luther King
Published 11:17 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The streets of Bassfield rang with the sounds of celebration as the county honored the civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King on the day set aside to remember his contributions to our country. A parade was held down main street and a celebration program held at BHS auditorium afterwards.
Awards were given for parade entries this year. 1st place went to Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 2nd place to South Central Chapter of Asa Philip Randolph Organization and 3rd place to JDC NAACP entry.
Grand Marshall for the parade was Rev. Raymond Geeston, the new President of the Jeff Davis County chapter of the NAACP.
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Those participating in the parade included the banner carriers, BHS JROTC, Grand Marshall Rev. Geeston, the BHS Band, AARP Chapter 5383, the General Baptist District Association, Prentiss High JROTC and band, Zion Church of God, Mt. Zion MB Church, Spring Hill MB Church, A Phillip Randolph Institute Chapter, the Democratic Party Executive Committee, Supervisors of Beat 4 and Beat 3, JDC Outreach Ministry, the Brotherhood of Spring Hill, Sweetwater CME Church, Hollisday Creek Baptist Church, S & S Catering and PHS band and Tobacco Free Coalition.
The theme for this year’s program was “the Dream Lives On.” Rev. Jason McLeod as MC guided those gathered through the program personalities that included the singing of the National Anthem by the young and talented Brandi Echols. The “Sweet Water Angels,” a group of children and young people, did an excellent job singing gospel songs.
JDC Superintendent of Schools Will Russell apprised the group of the state of the county’s schools stating Bassfield High School had been notified they have achieved the Distinguished National Title of #1 School in America. He stated only one other school in Mississippi received the recognition. Russell stated the honor came from growth in our students and challenged Prentiss High to have a star student. He also stated there is work being done on updating the strategic plan for the schools. However, Russell stated he could not do it alone. He has to have the community to help.
Supt. Russell pointed out some challenges the schools face:
According to ACT scores we are producing only 2% college and career ready students right now. This needs to improve.
• The District is financially sound.
• Common Core is still in place. The name may change but the rigor will be the same. The Assessment contract was cancelled, not Common Core.
• ADA (average daily attendance) needs to vastly improve. The county lost more than $300,000 in funds last year because of ADA. Help from the community is needed to impress upon the students the importance of regular attendance.
• ADA of teachers and staff must improve as well.
• There are some cleanup of facilities underway that are long overdue.
Youth presentations this year included speeches by BHS student Aaliyah Speights and PHS student JaMarquez Reese.
In her presentation Speights summarized the life and achievements of King and stated, “He had a dream, and though it is still a long way from being fully realized, the America of his racially segregated youth and that of today’s integrated society in which a black man was elected President of the United States are as far apart and different from each other as the planet Mars is from Neptune.” She received a murmur of approval as she continued, “Some of us to this day still don’t understand that Dr. King’s dream wasn’t all based around segregation and racism, but more so of peace and equality for all mankind.”
Reese spoke to the hearts of the audience in his presentation when he said, “If your dream is not scary, it’s not big enough.” He went on to say, “If you can dream it, you can do it. Step out and believe in yourselves and trust in God. Look to the Bible to see humble greatness. God used ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. We all have a role to play in a democracy. Keep the dream alive. Engage, educate and empower.”
Former PHS principal and pastor of Little Bethel CME Church in Terry, MS the Rev. Dr. James Lofton was keynote speaker for the event. He stated it had been 52 years since Dr. Martin Luther King stood in Washington “polarizing the world with the staggering mandate, that every man should be free and equal and delivering his ‘I have a Dream’ speech.” He further stated that the dream lives on and can be witnessed by those present today. There are more mountains to climb but the battles will not be accomplished on our own but with the “cosmic help” of the Lord. Lofton compared the actions of the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment believing she would be healed to what must be done today to achieve the dream. He stated, “You have a dream for yourself, for your church and community. If you want change to come you have to go against tradition; you have to get out of your comfort zone and believe that you can and you will give birth to your dreams. Live your dreams with every fiber within you and learn how to push for them for no one will push on your behalf.”
Other personalities on program included Rev. Jessie Holloway, Queen Sutton and an a Capella solo by Kia Carraway of “His Eyes are on the Sparrow.” Earnestine Bridges, Natalie Bell and Rev. Geeston spoke to the NAACP encouraging enrollment and voting stating, “In order to make a difference you have to make change; in order to make change you have to vote.”