The center candle on the third floor of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History bore one word: Believe.
Surrounded by other candles, this simple word spoke volumes for the 150 residents who gathered for the ninth annual In The Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King celebration.
During the event, long-time resident Lucy Nora Taylor was recognized for her efforts to continue the dream began by the slain civil rights leader.
Taylor was greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation as she made her way to the podium.
In announcing who would be honored, Emma Jean Tucker, who was similarly feted in 2011, noted that Taylor shuns the spotlight.
“She goes about quietly in our community doing good deeds,” Tucker said. “She chauffeurs the carless. She takes food to the hungry. She offers comfort to the mourners. She cleans the church for the worshipers. She spends time with the lonely.”
Cheryl Yellow Fawn Scott, co-director of the celebration with LaDonna McCarther, noted that the recognition honors not only the spirit of King, but carries on his dream.
“This person we recognize is one we showcase who has shown perseverance, dedication to humanity, and the courage that Dr. King showed in his life,” she said. “It was his inspiration.”
The theme of the evening was one of hope for the future while remembering the past.
“This program brings together the community, regardless of our differences, we find common ground in the dream of Dr. King,” Scott said.
The group recognized educators and those who went before to pave the way for the current generation.
During the celebration candles were lit in honor of past educators and the schools that fed into J.J. Jones High School.
“The light was the spark of hope which allowed our ancestors who may have been living in darkness to see a brighter future,” Scott said. “And today, God’s light and love continues to break through the darkness.”
The evening’s celebration featured musical selections ranging from original arrangements to traditional African-American spirituals.
The evening concluded with a creative interpretation of King’s speech, “Still I Rise.”
It is a sentiment obviously close to the hearts of those in attendance.
“Martin Luther King allows people to see through the darkness,” Scott told the crowd. “The darkness cannot dim the light of the spirit and ideals of Dr. King.
“Let us continue to be God’s love and God’s light.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.