A standing-room only crowd filled historic Bethel AME Church Jan. 16 to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The service followed a Unity Walk from City Hall to Bethel. Walkers sang and talked as they made their way through Historic Downtown Acworth to the church.
Bethel pastor Leela Brown Waller, who walked with the group, welcomed participants to the church and opened the celebration with prayer. Mayor Tommy Allegood delivered a short speech that praised Acworth’s diverse and united community, and also recognized what would have been King’s 88th birthday. Allegood ended his speech with the introduction of his friend and keynote speaker Vaughn Williams, who is director of athletics at Kennesaw State University.
Williams held up a poster board displaying the words “Choose Love.” “This is the most important thing we can do these days,” Williams said. “Love is the only answer, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to say.”
Williams held up a second poster board that read “Seek Truth.” “This is a challenge of our day,” Williams said. “How many of you here today text and use Twitter?” Williams asked, directing the question to the large group of young people in the audience. “Do you believe everything you read online? We must provoke our minds. We must consciously find the truth. Dr. Martin Luther King symbolized the truth.”
Williams held up a final poster board that read, “Create Community.” “As you can see, the word community is made using the word ‘unity,’” Williams noted. “I have 410 athletes from all over the world and from all types of backgrounds. They are not worried about black, white, rich or poor. They are worried about hitting their goals. They are striving together. That is why I love Acworth. You are striving together for community.”
Williams ended his speech by reading from King’s “Drum Major Instinct,” a sermon King delivered Feb. 4, 1968. The speech is online at: www.thekingcenter.org.
The service also included a performance by Acworth United Methodist Church Children’s Choir, and Evah Nganga and Ruth Njoroge, who participate with Acworth Achievers Mentoring and After School Program, read their own works. The performance and readings received lengthy applause.
After the celebration, the mentoring program, which is directed by Acworth Parks and Recreation Coordinator Mychal Lewis, hosted a MLK Day of Service activity at Bethel. The group and community residents joined to rake leaves and plant flowers outside the church.
By Carla Caldwell, title editor of Around Acworth