NEWBURGH – The49th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday was celebrated by the Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley on January 16.
The day-long event began at 9:30am at New Hope Baptist Church. As always it was a time for family to be together. The committee encourages those who attend to reach out to relatives and friends, to mend broken relationships and share the meaning of Dr. King’s dream of justice and peace.
This year’s theme was “Back to the Basics…Physically and spiritually,” according to Black History Committee President Sadie Tallie. Councilwoman Cindy Holmes (Ward 4) covered the theme as it relates to “In the Home.” Rev. Nelson McAllister covered the theme from a “Community” perspective and Irene Scott-Bethea took on “Church.”
Holmes spoke of the many resources available to those in the community and invited them to become more active in city government. “Your voice needs to be heard,” she said.
McAllister said, “There is not a single part of your life not affected by your attitude.” He encouraged those gathered to work on having a positive attitude.
Reflecting on a trip he took to Africa in 2010, McAllister saw people walking to church in the mud with no shoes. “They were happy to do it,” he recalled. “God wants us to have a new attitude,” he concluded. He encouraged those gathered to turn off the television, watching shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and “Hollywood Husbands” as they are not only sending a wrong message, but giving us a negative attitude.
Scott-Bethea warned that some might be offended as to what she had to say before she spoke on her subject. “Some of you might not want to hear what I’m about to say, but you need to hear it,” she began. Her back to basics message seemed to focus on respect. Having respect for yourself, respect for others, and respect for your house of worship.
“People shouldn’t be on their phone or texting or watching movies while in church,” she said. “Focus on why you are there.” She spoke about dressing appropriately (both men and women) so there is no temptation and having respect for your elders. “If we get back to these basics, we will be a much better community,” she concluded.
Youth also enjoyed workshops thanks to Shawna Newkirk-Reynolds, Grace Bowles, Mr. Dalton and George Bowles. Each workshop focused on Dr. King’s teachings and message of love and non-violence. Following their workshops each group made a presentation as to what they learned.
George Bowles, a retired school teacher, encouraged parents to talk to their children and “tell them how much you love them.” His advice to the youth was simple, “get your education. Your education is the best thing you can have.”