A community breakfast and ceremony, which was accompanied by a march down Main Street, in honor of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was held Monday morning in the First Federal Center on the Hazard Campus of the Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC).
The ceremony included songs and expressions of hope for the children, community, and nation from several religious leaders in and around Hazard.
Master of ceremony, Evangelist Jake Ravizee said, “I believe events like this break down more walls and barriers than we will ever imagine. This event itself is a humbling experience because when you think of what Dr. King has done and what is necessary now, being able to come together and set down in unity is a great power. My concern is that all participants come and bring everybody together allowing us to look at each other as being one and being the same. That’s what this has been for me.”
The ceremony also included the presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, which went to Charlene Walker, a former Perry County resident and graduate of Dilce Combs High School. Rashaun Wilkerson, a Senior Account Manager with Sykes Enterprises, presented Walker with the award. The purpose of this award is to recognize Kentuckians who have made outstanding contributions in community service through their knowledge, skills, or service.
During her keynote speech, Walker, who is the Vice President of Multicultural Affairs at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College, challenged those in attendance to think and go into action by speaking about whether or not King’s words are being implemented today and whether his dream has come true.
“His words are far reaching. They truly do reach from sea to shining sea, but do we implement those words today? Do our young people know the price that has been paid for them to be where they are today? Ask young people how many books they read outside of their required text in school and you will see what I mean. As a child here in Hazard, I remember the day when black folks were not able to go to the library. Now there is a library on every corner and you can’t beg kids to go,” Walker said.
She went on to ask if the ball had been dropped when it comes to promoting Dr. King’s dream.
“We have to realize that black history is American History. We have become complacent as a society. If we look deep inside ourselves we will know that the words of Dr. King will compel us to do better. We cannot continue to be complacent. We cannot afford as a people and a nation not to promote the work of Dr. King and still make his dream be real,” she said.
Chris Melton, site director for Sykes Enterprises, finished the ceremony by challenging everyone there to become more involved in what they were passionate about.
“Life is short. We never know when there isn’t going to be a tomorrow. We are all passionate about different things. I challenge you to get more involved in what you are passionate about and to make a difference in a child’s life starting today. That impact that you have will make a difference for a lifetime,” he said.
The event, which is in its third year, was sponsored by Sykes Enterprises and American Electric Power.