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Hudson Valley Press

January 22nd, 2014

Annual Program Honors the Life of Dr. King

The First Annual Dr. King Parade gets going Monday in Beacon. The parade was part of the Southern Dutchess Coalition’s 36th Birthday Celebration, held at Springfield Baptist Church.
BEACON - It used to happen on a regular basis years ago. So, why not now?

Pete Seeger recently asked himself this question about a community coming together as one. Realizing that others shared his vision, he posed the idea of having a community parade. And what better time to have that “march” than on Martin Luther King Day? Thanks to the united efforts of several local folks and organizations, that “1st Annual Dr. King Parade” became a reality Monday. A part of the Southern Dutchess Coalition, Inc. 36th Birthday Celebration, the Parade was a smashing success, drawing somewhere between 700-1000 participants according to organizers  Although Seeger was unable to attend due to medical reasons, his presence was felt.

“The parade, music, singing, unity and everything was absolutely wonderful today,” said Sharlene Stout, Chairperson of Monday’s MLK Event that also took place in the Springfield Baptist Church. “Pete would be so proud to see how people have come out to join together and support history; he really wanted to do something to bring all of the people together, and that has certainly been the case today.”
This years’ festivities added yet another facet to the program, an Essay Contest. Involving children from the Beacon City School District in grades 5-12, the Contest featured the topic: The Time is Always Right to Do Right.” Six winners were selected from the 90 essay applicants. Each of the victorious fifth graders received a certificate as well as gift from Rhinebeck Bank at Monday’s Celebration.
The morning segment was further highlighted by a “Celebration Video,” detailing the pictoral history of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is all about. The packed church crowd was mesmerized by an assortment of riveting visuals, depicting pivotal times in history. Photographs of the roots of slavery, Reconstruction, The March in Washington, Jim Crow Laws, Rosa Parks. and the motel site of Dr King’s assassination appeared.  As the images flooded the screen, the videos’ maker and narrator, Colver Sanchez, provided accompanying background tidbits. At the videos’ conclusion, he addressed the crowd,
“It’s important that we realize today is not just a day we are off from school or work, but one to remember all that this man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has done for us.”

The afternoon segment continued to provide an assortment of musical entertainment. In past years, the genre has mostly centered upon gospel. However, this year introduced yet another twist: melodies from the Civil Rights Movement as well as the churches from Dr. Kings’ time. The change, like the new Parade, met with immediate success. As in other years, several local dignitaries from an assortment of organizations were on hand to lend their support to the integral days’ cause of equality and hope. Among them was newly inducted NAACP, Beacon/Fishkill Branch President, Dr. Anesta Vannoy.

“The NAACP is not an African-american organization, but one for truth, justice, and freedom for everyone,” affirmed Dr. Vannoy. “It was not started by African-americans, but by caucasians as a place to help give us all a voice”

Following a lunch break, the afternoon venue featured Guest speaker Lelia Singleton of the St. James AME Zion Church in Beacon. Focusing on this years’ theme: What Would Martin Do, Singleton spoke of the need to be role models to today’s children as well as the importance of continuing to honor Kings’ Dream, to keep moving on and not stopping.

Part of the Day further featured the recognition of Dr. Ronald O’ Perry Sr., Pastor of Springfield Baptist Church. With so many holding so much gratitude for having the Church as a place to gather for this years’ as well as several other MLK Day Celebrations, the NAACP of Beacon and Fishkill wanted to make sure Perry’s efforts to secure the setting were honored. Perry soon after offered his remarks.
“We want to thank everyone who makes this Celebration really stand out,” said Perry. “Let us not make just this day, but every day, a part of the Dream.” Perry continued by challenging the large crowd, “Will you do that?” After much assent and applause, Perry shook his head in approval, responding, “Well alright.”

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