Remembering King – and his influence
An assignment to cover the annual Rappahannock County celebration of the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., changed my life three years ago, since I did not know what was in store for me when I walked in to The Theatre in Washington.
The same feeling that soon came over me then, surrounded by inspiring people of many races, returns every time I revisit the ceremonies held at the Theatre, including this past Sunday – black Americans needed an inspiring leader like King – but, above all, Americans needed him, needed to be inspired by his work and words. It was the right prescription for our country, as well as for me.
I recommend that anyone who has not been to one of the King celebrations, held on the Sunday before the federal Monday holiday, make plans to attend next year. You’ll be introduced to a legacy that will stay with you forever, as it has for me since 2009.
A full house gathered at the Theatre this Sunday to honor Dr. King, who would have been 83 this Jan. 15, as a great civil rights leader whose vision was equal justice for all Americans. Local officials attending included Washington Mayor John Sullivan, and his wife, Beverly; County Administrator John McCarthy and former Commonwealth’s Attorney Peter Luke; and school board vice chair Aline Johnson.
This was the 21st year that the Julie E. Boddie Scholarship Committee sponsored the celebration to honor King’s memory in words and songs. Rev. Forrest Freeman, an associate of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Flint Hill, served as emcee, and introductions were done by the celebration’s organizer, Nan Butler Roberts.
The Rappahannock County High School Jazz Band filled the house with the sound of beautiful music. Praise dancers Jordan and Marissa Moore of Culpeper gave several presentations – all of them awesome – powerful – amazing! Truly anointed and very spiritual, they were both also excellent dancers whose hearts were firmly in each of the dances they performed.
This year’s program featured the announcement of the “Dream Keeper” award to a community member who embodied the essence of Dr. King’s life and work. The 2012 recipient was Dr. Decker Tapscott, founder and senior pastor of Faith Christian Church and International Outreach Center in Warrenton, for more than 20 years, and a frequent speaker in conference gatherings, both in the U.S. and abroad.
In his inspiring speech, Tapscott compared King’s life to the Old Testament’s Joseph, who was sent to the “pit” for his dreams. Tapscott encouraged the audience to dream, and not to stay in the “pit” but focus on the “palace” in whatever you endeavor to accomplish.
The observance is sponsored each year by the Theatre and the Boddie scholarship committee.
There was a free will offering – which is taken each year – and it goes toward helping a graduating Rappahannock County senior with furthering his or her education.
Drummer Scottie Williams of Culpeper, also known as the Mountain Rasta, played the African djembe, a powerful drum that encouraged audience participation with hand-clapping and call-and-response chants.
For the closing, everyone stood up, joined hands and sang, “We Shall Overcome,” as we swayed from side to side.
In 2009, I did have to overcome something that I had believed in over the years that was wrong. I can say when we joined hands Sunday and sang together, I had a big smile on my face knowing I had peace in my heart and that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., helped light the candle that opened my eyes and heart.
Love and Faithfullness Church in Front Royal is having a memorial service in remembrance of Tony Mills of Washington at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. Tony, who passed away on Dec. 20 at the age of 75, was born on Oct. 20 1936. He leaves behind his wife Bonnie, and two stepsons Clinton and Wayne to whom he was a wonderful father to. In his youth Tony was a professional boxer and enjoyed football.
Tony loved everybody he came in contact with, but his first love was Jesus Christ. He was a member at Love and Faithfullness Church and The Wonderful Lighthouse Worship Center, Sperryville
The Love and Faithfullness church is at 321 South Royal Ave. For more information, call 540-247-1739.
Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Ashleigh Elisabeth Burke and Michael Bryan Abrams. They are planning a June wedding. Ashleigh is the daughter of Richard and Judith Burke of Huntly and Michael Bryan is the son of Kay and Carroll Swenson of Midlothian, Va. Both are 2008 graduates of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources.
Birthday wishes go out to Jay Alther of Washington. He celebrated his special day on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
There are some people in life that one meets who are very special, and Mary Fletcher is one of those. We wish her a speedy recovery. We send our thoughts and prayers to her. If anyone would like to send Mary a card, address it to her c/o Evergreen Rehab, 380 Millwood Ave., Winchester, VA 22601. According to son Mike, Mary is doing much better.