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A celebration of MLK’s life and legacy

Story & Photos


     A celebration of the life and legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the national holiday in his honor Monday in Tabor City was equal parts tribute and revival with keynote speaker Elder Raheem Robinson delivering a fiery sermon worthy of most Sunday pulpits.

     About 50 people gathered at the Club 15 Civic League Building for the hour-long celebration beginning, as always, at noon. Others taking part included emcee Deacon Derrick Vereen, Rev. Toni Vereen, Rev. Wannetta Williams, Rev. Christian Grate, Pastor Freda Hutchinson, Pastor John Williams, Douglass Alumni board member Javonna Long, Douglass Alumni Scholarship Committee members Donnis Graham and James Stephens, Tabor City Mayor pro tem Lamont Grate, and state House of Representatives candidate Edward Squires.

Rev. Toni Vereen and Deacon Darrick Vereen

‘Part of me’

     A reading of Dr. King’s famed “I have a dream” speech took a detour when the man expected to deliver those words was unable to attend.

     Rev. Vereen, one of the founding leaders of the annual celebration in Tabor City, was pressed into service, duty he said he was happy to handle, though he admitted he was not prepared. He did not quote the speech, but talked of its essence.

     “The essence of the ‘I have a dream’ speech is a part of me,” Vereen said.

     Vereen said he was “blessed” to meet some of the pivotal early civil rights leaders in Greensboro and elsewhere, “too many to name,” and that he well remembers standing up locally for civil rights as that movement swept, and changed the nation.

     Recalling that Rasa Parks “just wanted to get home” when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, Vereen said her vision offered hope, and that like that of Dr. King, “the dream is still alive.

     “We must remember that we are God’s children, and if we are God’s children, then the dream is still alive.”

Elder Raheem Robinson

‘Sent by God’

     Robinson was introduced by Christian Grate as “sent by God” before he delivered a passionate, Christ centered sermon.

     Encouraging all to “pick up your cross and follow after Jesus,” Robinson said “this world is full of evil.”

     That evil includes divisions, which are unavoidable, he said.

     “Even to this day, the most segregated day in America is Sunday,” Robinson said. “Because it is in man’s nature to be separate.

     “The only way you can be a better person is you have to be born again.”

     Civil rights and Christianity go hand-in-hand, Robinson said.

     “The cross unites people,” he said. “The only way the community can change is to go back to the cross.”

     For more on this story see this week’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.