Group honors MLK’s work

STEUBENVILLE – Gathering in the gym at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center Saturday, children listened as Duane Jennings and other volunteers quizzed them on various aspects of the civil rights activist’s life.

They were asked about the high school he attended (Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, the first black public school in the U.S.), his most famous speech (Known as “I Have a Dream,” it was uttered at a massive march in Washington in 1963.) and the place where he was killed (Memphis, Tenn.), among other things.

Those who answered correctly were rewarded with a gift card to a local department store.

Jennings said the youth were prepared for the quize because they had worked Saturday morning on a 14-page workbook that mixed puzzles with facts about King’s roots and leadership in the civil rights movement.

Younger children were given coloring sheets highlighting aspects of King’s crusade to bring about civil rights for all.

Aiding youth in completing the workbook, which was produced by Carole Marsh/Gallopade International, were members of Eastern Gateway Community College’s Cultural Diversity Club and the Martin Luther Jr. Association.

“They get to take it (the workbook) home with them,” Jennings added.

The event at the center is among several being held this weekend by the association in observance of Martin Luther King Day. The observance continues at 6 p.m. today with an ecumenical service at Quinn AME Church, 515 North St., and featuring the Rev. Lewis Macklin II of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church of Youngstown, as guest speaker.

Monday’s activities include a continental breakfast at 9 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Center, followed by the MLK Memorial March at 10:30 a.m. from there to Steubenville High School, where a program will be held.

Highlights of the program include the presentation of awards to Mary K. McVey and Tiffany Boury, professors at the university who have worked for many years with youth at the center; and recognition of winners of the association’s youth essay contest.

A lunch prepared by Sodexo Food Service staff from the university will follow.

James Baber, the association’s president and executive vice president at EGCC, said the events also help to raise awareness of scholarships awarded by the group in King’s name. The group hopes to award eight $1,000 scholarships and one for $500 in the spring, he said.

Jennings noted on Saturday the children learned how King was influenced by Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of non-violent resistance and the role Rosa Parks played in the desegregation of buses in Montgomery, Ala., among other things.

He and others also encouraged the youth to heed King’s call to serve others, especially on Martin Luther King Day.

“It’s a day on, not a day off. We encourage them to help somebody,” Jennings said.

He noted the event also has its lighter moments. In the cafeteria decorated with balloons and pictures of King by the Slaughter sisters, owners Slaughter by Design, the children were treated to lunch, cake and ice cream, followed by dancing in the gym.

The date of Martin Luther King Day was selected because it was his birthday, so why not celebrate his birth and his achievements, Jennings suggested.

Music for the dancing was provided by disc jockey Anthony Feaster, while the youth were treated earlier to a performance by the Martin Luther King Jr. Association Children’s Choir.

Under the direction of Delores Wiggins, Lisa Thomas and Tina Feaster, the youth choir began about 18 years ago.

The association also has an adult group, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Mass Choir, which was begun more than 40 years ago and will perform at tonight’s service.

Wiggins said it’s important for youth to be involved in remembering King, and she hopes the children’s choir will continue for many years.

Jennings said the activities at the center also play a vital role in making a new generation aware of King’s mission and vision.

“We’ve got to keep the dream alive,” he said.

The message wasn’t lost on 12-year-old Deounlee Young of Steubenville, who was among youth who received a gift card for answering questions about King.

“Martin Luther King inspired people to believe they can accomplish anything they dream. He was a great man who helped make America better. He helped to end segregation and brought people together,” she said.