41st Annual MLK Celebration Draws Large Crowd

By Jennifer L. Warren

BEACON – The date had to be readjusted, but the critical messages remained steadfast.

Saturday, inside-and outside- Beacon’s Springfield Baptist Church, an impressive crowd came out to pay tribute to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating his birthday in a popular, rescheduled venue, filled with music, community, positivity and love. Due to extreme cold conditions on Dr. King’s birthday, the 41st Annual event was blessed with sunny, crystal blue skies and forty degree temperatures, as the day kicked off with a continental breakfast, followed up by the 6th Annual Community Reverend Dr. King Parade, founded by the late and beloved Pete Seeger. Carrying signs bearing messages of peace, and unity, marchers energetically traversed the streets of Beacon. The busy morning also included the unraveling of winners in the 6th Annual MLK Community Essay Contest as well as a talent show segment. Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, several local politicians were on hand, celebrating the legacy of Dr. King.

“Martin Luther King was never a politician; however, he was indirectly involved in the passage of so many pieces of important legislation,” said newly inaugurated District Assemblyman, Jonathan Jacobson. “Dr. King showed us that everyone has a role to play in this world; he was a doer, and what we should take away is that we should each do.”

That commitment to action could be spotted all over Springfield Baptist Church Saturday, as dancing, singing and an assortment of profound remarks were made by several dignitaries about the still very pertinent messages Dr. King preached and lived. It’s those very timeless gems that made the rescheduled event an absolute necessity for so many.

“The messages of Dr. King need to be sent and received, and today was absolutely phenomenal with how they were,” said Kenya Gadsen, a member of the Southern Dutchess Coalition, Inc. (the sponsor of the event) as well as a candidate for Dutchess County Clerk.

“Unfortunately MLK is not here today, but his messages are still very much the same, and we are struggling to attain the goal.”

Ms. Gadson also cited the power of music, pointing to one of the most memorable moments of the day when longtime Coalition member, Ms. Orquist, an active participant in Springfield’s Choir who is afflicted with Alzheimers, was able to suddenly join in, making a waving gesture while smiling, during one of the musical numbers. Orquist, along with a few other pivotal members in the Coalition and Church, were recognized during the program for their selfless and priceless contributions.

Beacon native, April Farley has been attending the MLK Celebration since its inception when she was a little girl. She now comes with her college-aged son, Christian, and is intent on keeping the tradition going-as well as Dr. King’s legacy- burning brightly.

“It is beautiful to come together as a community, keeping Dr. King’s spirit alive,” said Farley. “There is so much we can do together.” She continued by alluding to one of King’s many deeply profound quotes, fitting for the beautiful events of the day. “It is always the right time to do what is right.”

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