By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – One of the biggest, area Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations was not happening on the actual holiday, Monday, but last Wednesday evening.
Inside the Holy Temple United Holy Church of America, Inc. on South Street in the City of Newburgh, about 250 people gathered on January 15 to pay tribute to a very special day, the actual birth date of Dr. King. For over two hours, 29 religious leaders, representing a vast spectrum of religions and their institutions, forming the Christian Ministerial Fellowship of Newburgh & Vicinity, joined with Newburgh as well as other residents in song, prayer and revered memory to honor the life of a civil rights legend, Dr. King. The long-running, popular City of Newburgh MLK tradition serves multiple purposes, foremost keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.
“It’s all about Dr. King and his messages and trying to get them reinstated today,” explained Pastor Elder Willie C. Mays, Jr., President of the Christian Ministerial Fellowship. “This celebration is a city-wide event when we can all come together on Dr. King’s actual birthday, remembering his dream and what he stood for; we use his quotes, discuss civil rights and theme of non-violence as well as the Memorial Wall in his honor in Washington, D.C., and all of the things he did; it was a very successful event once again this year.”
Including an Invocation, Song of Praise, Memorial of Silence, MLK Jr. Celebration Choir Selections as well as Guest Preacher, Elder Anthony Slade, Pastor Holy Temple, Inc., UHC of America, Inc, and Guest Speaker, the uplifting, lively program, also featured several local, political dignitaries seated in the front row, each absorbed in the potency of the special evening.
“I thought everyone involved did an excellent job, and I was particularly impressed by the Guest Speaker Dr. Green who spoke the word of truth just like Dr. King did,” said Sadie Tallie, Chairperson of the Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley for over 60 years and faithfully involved with this MLK celebration. “Education and understanding our true history are keys; without them our people will perish, so it is so important that we honor the legacy of Dr. King like we did this evening.”
On a day when Dr. King would have turned 91 years old, people from a wide selection of racial and ethnic cultures joined together as one at 179 South Street, and in many ways served as a symbol for much of what Dr. King fought so relentlessly for-unity, peace, justice, and love. They were messages he was willing to sacrifice his very life for, and based on the numbers and sheer energy of the turnout, will not ever be forgotten.
“I’ve been going to this event my whole life, for 28 years, and it really, truly shows the unity of the different religions and institutions in Newburgh that all come together here, just very special,” said lifelong City of Newburgh resident, Chandra Jones. “You learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school, but the older I get, the more I really see his dream and how it has unfolded, grown and been built after all of these years.”