By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – Beautiful. Wonderful. Inspiring.
These are just a few of the ways Sharlene Stout described last Monday’s 42nd Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday Celebration, held at Beacon’s Springfield Baptist Church. What started out in the late 1970’s as a small, grassroots movement to pay tribute to a man who has so profoundly and positively shaped countless lives, while spreading the messages of community, peace, non-violence and love, has blossomed into a popular, ongoing, growing annual tradition, filled with activity and powerful energy in the City of Beacon.
“I am so happy and proud of how today turned out,” said Sharlene Stout, Vice Chairperson of the event’s sponsor, the Southern Dutchess Coalition Inc. (SDC) as well as its Chorus Director and Co-Chairperson of the Essay Contest. “I thought it was a true honor to honor Judge Peter Forman as well as Patricia White, Goldee Green and Beulah Jackson and to see the six essay contest winner children receiving awards and certificates from United States Representative for New York’s 18th congressional district, Sean Patrick Maloney, for their essays.” Stout added, “The morning parade was also wonderful and serves to keep the memory of local legend Pete Seeger alive; while the entire day does the same for Martin Luther King; both did so much for so many, and it’s just wonderful to see us all come together as we are today.”
Featuring a kickoff Pete Seeger Parade, the chock-filled day included; a continental breakfast, host of musical entertainment by the SDC Mass Choir, moving remarks by Celebration Preacher Reverend Linda White as well as Reverend Ronald O’Perry, Sr., Pastor, both of host church, Springfield Baptist Church, lunch, special presentations and much more.
Guided by this year’s theme, “If God is for us, who can be against us,” the day was fueled by words from Reverend Perry, centering upon how Dr. King stood for everyone and was felt by all in some way. In this spirit, those honored this year, each represent that same idea, impacting countless lives with their abilities to continue living Dr. King’s Dream.
“This award is especially special receiving it on this day that we celebrate peace,” said Hon. Forman, Dutchess County Judge and lifelong Beacon resident. “I’m simply a County Judge who tries my best to enforce justice.”
Another honoree, White, a former educator, who has had a powerful, lasting impact on innumerable young people’s lives, was also moved and humbled by her recognition.
“I accept this honor with so much gratitude; this plaque is symbolic of the power of this organization (SDC) in Dutchess County,” said White. “I shall continue to keep serving the community with my mind, soul and heart.”
Yet another individual presented with laurels was local entertainer, Goldee Greene, an international recording artist, pianist, composer, actor, arts educator and much more.
Actively involved in the community, contributing her creative talents, Greene too was visibly touched by the recognition. Performing a short, potent musical number in honor of MLK, her melodic voice mesmerized the audience with its symbolic overtures of hope.
“I’m just so proud to receive this honor on my favorite, most wonderful holiday when everyone comes together with open hearts,” said Greene. “I wish every day could be this beautiful.”