Celebrating King’s dream, Obama’s ascent

Published 5:41 pm Monday, January 19, 2009

A crisp recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was interspersed with joyful shouts of “Obama!” on Monday at George Dailey Park, the site of the City of Montevallo’s fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration.

The jubilant crowd could not help but link King’s powerful words to the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Mayor Ben McCrory said Obama’s presidency is not the culmination of King’s dream, but rather a continuation.

The crowd responded to McCrory with several “Amens!”

“This year is especially a blessing,” said LaToya Peeples, the day’s mistress of order. “I quite frankly didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime.”

City Councilman Willie Goldsmith echoed Peeples’ sentiment.

“This is a special, special occasion,” Goldsmith said. I’m so elated … I just can’t put it in words.”

This year’s celebration, which included a parade down Main Street, netted its largest turnout ever, according to McCrory.

Several speakers were on hand to the mark the occasion. Among them were the Rev. W.R. Williams of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, former Shelby County Commissioner Earl Cunningham, poet Barbara Belisle and Jewel Dailey, the widow of late Shelby County Commissioner George Dailey.

“We’re giving special thanks to a man that wanted to see change in his lifetime,” Dailey said. “Today is not only an opportunity to say thank you, it’s also an opportunity for us to remember the life and works of a man who had a great dream, and we have lived to see his dream come true.”

Area youth also participated in Monday’s celebration by singing, praise dancing and sporting Obama T-shirts, hats and commemorative buttons. The New Everdale Baptist Church Youth Choir inspired the crowd with the gospel song “Hold On.” Clapping their hands and swaying from side to side, the choir sang, “Hold on, change is coming, hold on, don’t worry about a thing…”