Portsmouth, Ohio (WOWK) – Martin Luther King Jr Day was signed into law as a federal holiday nearly 40 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states officially recognized it, but a group of people in Portsmouth, not only observe it early but make it a three-day-long celebration.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Scholarship Committee is sponsoring the three-day event that started on Saturday with a scholarship breakfast and continued on Sunday.
On Sunday there was a memorial service at Kingdom Builders Evangelistic Ministries, and a scholarship recipient’s essay reading. Dr. King who was an advocate of integration would be happy to know that both white and black children received scholarships in his name this year. Jaiden Rickett, Kathryn Davis, Jaylin Pearsall, and Sarah LeMaster talked about the impact his sacrifice is having on their lives.
During her essay reading, Rickett said, “I might not have been able to succeed in life, because I would not have had the educational options that I have today.”
Davis said, “If it weren’t for Dr. King’s teachings of love and acceptance for all people, my best friends and I might never have known each other.”
Dr. King, was also an advocate for nonviolence, peaceful protests, and knowing where to plant your feet when starting a fight, so Maureen Cadogan, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Scholarship Committee scheduled a silent protest down Waller Street and about 50 community participated in the march in the freezing temperatures.
“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, so we want them to remember who we are, where we came, and where we need to move on to,” said Cadogan.
During the march, some of the participants held signs in honor of Dr. King and said they were going to be thinking about the past and those who sacrificed so much.
“People have gone through and done so much more than what we have done right now, and to think what they sacrificed for us. . . they deserve this (silent march),” said Pearsall
LeMaster said the march means to her that the community, regardless of color, can all,” be together as family and friends.”
Others saw the march as a sign that there is still much more that needs to be done, especially when it comes to the teaching of Black History in the classrooms.
“Today there is a little bit more but we can cover more about (Black) History, so we can make sure we don’t repeat it,” said Davis.
Cadogan said gains still need to be made when it comes to economics and wage disparity, but she said the silent march on Sunday also reminds her how far the county has come in the last 50 to 60 years.
“Just the fact that we can go to a drinking fountain and get a drink of water without suffering consequences. We can go to a restaurant and sit down and not go through the backdoor or be refused service,” said Cadogan.
She also said the Dr. Martin Luther King Scholarship Committee has been serving the area for 30 years and will be continuing the festivities on Monday in Portsmouth with a Winter Picnic at the 14th Street Community Center at 1 p.m.