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Martin Luther King Jr. Day events planned for Steubenville area

REMEMBERING MLK — James Baber, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Association, reviews with the Rev. Buena Dudley Paschall, pastor of Quinn Memorial A.M.E. Church in Steubenville, plans for a virtual memorial service at 6 p.m. Sunday at Mount Carmel Community Baptist Church. (Photo by Janice Kiaski)

STEUBENVILLE — While the COVID-19 pandemic will impact how Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed locally, it will in no way lessen the importance of remembering and celebrating the life and legacy of the civil rights leader who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

The MLK Youth and Children’s Program will be marked Saturday at the Sycamore Youth Center at 301 N. Fourth St., beginning at 9:30 a.m., and include a variety of service projects, the memorial service moves to a virtual platform with the service set for 6 p.m. Sunday at Mount Carmel Community Baptist Church.

It will be broadcast on Mount Carmel’s Facebook page with the Rev. Buena Dudley Paschall as guest speaker, according to James Baber, association president.

On Monday at 12:30 p.m., there will be an MLK/NAACP Youth Reflection program on WTOV9.Com, FOX 9, and live streaming and radio broadcast. It will be led by Mike McIntyre, president of the Steubenville Branch of the NAACP.

Event casualties of the pandemic include the traditional march from the MLK Recreation Center to Steubenville High School, where a program was held and student essay winners acknowledged.

The MLK Association’s annual’s prayer breakfast in November, a kick-off for MLK events in January, also fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic safety precautions.

The Rev. Benjamin Calvert, host pastor, will serve as master of ceremonies for Sunday’s memorial service that will include special music and a welcome and overview of the association given by Baber, who also will offer remarks and a scholarship appeal.

Patricia Fletcher will introduce the guest speaker, who serves as pastor of Quinn Memorial A.M.E. Church in Steubenville. Paschall’s speech is entitled “Upon This Rock.”

Paschall is a native of Cleveland, having resided there most of her youth before moving to Monroeville, Pa. She received her bachelor’s degree in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh and completed graduate studies in secondary and adult education, receiving teaching certifications at UCLA and California State University, Dominguez Hills.

She received the master of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary and is a doctoral student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

As an educator, Paschall has been an instructor and administrator across the country from Los Angeles to Arvada, Colo., including Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Fulton County, Ga., and Pittsburgh. In retirement, she taught at Geneva College’s Center for Urban Biblical Ministry and the Metro Urban Institute of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

As a published writer and “a fervent justice activist,” Paschall has called the church to concretely respond to the needs of children of the incarcerated. She worked for the Welcoming Immigrants Housing Project which houses asylum seekers from Africa and South America and assists their transition and survival in America. She is the proprietor of Excel Educational and Editing Endeavor through which she has tutored, proofread documents and edited theses and books. As the founder of Transformative Justice, Equity and Empowerment Initiative, she addresses social justice issues through advocacy, ministry, public address and public actions. Through this organization she has conducted seminars entitled “Mass Incarceration: 21st Century Systemic Slavery.”

Along with a commitment to pastoring and preaching God’s Word, Paschall enjoys facilitating “Sacred Conversations on Race + Action” in churches throughout the ecumenical community. She is an activist and faith leader in the fight for social justice on national, state and local fronts. She served as the Western Pennsylvania representative of Healing Communities USA and as a co-convenor of Healing Communities of Western Pennsylvania. With the National Religious Council Against Torture, she toured prisons across Pennsylvania and met with the Department of Corrections Secretary and prison wardens to effect change in Pennsylvania’s penal system.

She also is a professional family and crisis counselor, ministering to families and children to promote spiritual, social and emotional well-being.

As a means to remember King’s legacy, an annual observance of the holiday was established by the MLK Association, according to Baber. The association was organized and created during the 1970s by local citizens, including Mary Ruth Thorn, Eugene Gillison, Delores Wiggins, Anita Jackson and others

“The goal of the MLK Association was to have an annual memorial of the legacy of Dr. King and to keep the ‘Dream Alive’ for the citizens of the Steubenville area,” Baber said. “The association felt that it was essential and important that America not forget what and why the dream needs to be kept alive,” he said. “Over the past 50 years, the association has attempted to keep the dream alive by the establishment of scholarships for college students, an annual memorial service, an annual reflections of the civil rights movement, a musical of Black songs related to the movement, a prayer breakfast and awarding of monetary gifts to elementary and high school students who write essays regarding Dr. King’s vision and hope for America.”

“The MLK Association annually awards students these gifts in order to encourage students to reflect upon Dr. King’s life and impact of his work during the civil rights movement and of current America,” Baber continued. “These events allow students to think about how civil rights, diversity and racial justice affect their present day lives.”

The Rev. Ruford Bristal, former pastor of the Quinn A.M.E. Church of Steubenville, suggested and established the association’s scholarship division. The annual goal is to award 10 $1,000 scholarships when funds are available.

“Due to the conoravirus/COVID-19, this past fall only three scholarships were awarded,” Baber said. “The virus has caused a negative impact to businesses and churches which caused donations to be limited. While students are not in seat for courses, they are enrolled in online classes,” he noted.

Donations can be made by mail at: MLK Association, P.O. Box 4632, Steubenville, OH 43952, Givelify to MLK Association of Steubenville or PayPal to skirtdoll@comcast.net which goes directly to the MLK bank account.

“The association is thankful for sponsors such as Huntington Bank, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Jefferson/Eastern Gateway Community College, Steubenville City School District, local governments, local churches, the Sycamore Center and community citizens that have supported the goals of the association over the years,” Baber said, noting anyone can join the nonprofit organization by informing the association’s secretary, Carol Ann Simmons.

“New members are encouraged to join,” he added.

In addition to Baber and Simmons, association officers are Paul Rue, vice president, and Sharon Kirtdoll, treasurer.

In Weirton, meanwhile, Dunbar Recreation Center will celebrate its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March on Monday.

The walk will begin at 11 a.m. at Christ the King Worship Center on Weir Avenue and end at the center, located at 300 Kressel St. at the corner of Weir Avenue and Kressel Street.

For informaton, contact Earlean Jones, president, at (304) 748-7834.

The Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, meanwhile, will celebrate the civil rights leader’s life and legacy through its permanent exhibitions and by inviting the community to participate in the walk. The WAMCC will be closed during the walk so that museum staff and volunteers can take part, according to Savannah Schroll Guz, its executive director.

The museum will reopen at 1 p.m. and remain open until 5:30 p.m. so visitors can view the exhibits, particularly the Dr. Anthony J. Major display. Guz explained that it offers a visual and historical profile of a man who received the Sharing of Self Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission in 2015.

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