What do the words faith, community and education mean to you? In your life, how have those three words shaped you? These three words represent not only this year’s theme for Hopkins County’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, but also his life and legacy.
For the last 38 years, the county has hosted this celebration. It has grown into one of the most significant organized events in the commonwealth that celebrates King. The event hopes to draw over 400 people, said organizer Tim Thomas.
“We’re excited about this weekend because we have a cross-section of Hopkins County participating this year, as well as people from across the region coming,” he said. “The Hopkins County school system has partnered with us again to recognize young people for their writing skills.
“That’s why our theme this year is so important — ‘Fulfilling the dream, through faith, community, and education.’ We have to have God first, as our base, and let that spread into our community, and to highlight the importance of education because I think that was what Dr. King was all about.”
Saturday’s keynote speaker Rev. Kilen K. Gray, the senior pastor at New Mt. Zion in Shelbyville and the dean of student engagement at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, said this year’s theme is representative of how King did his work.
“Most of (King’s) justice work was produced from the germination of the ethos of his church, both Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta,” he said. “Faith for Dr. King was critical and for African-Americans throughout our history. It has been our faith in God and our faith in Jesus Christ, where we have been able to draw strength in order to counter and push against racism and the vilification of humanity we’ve experienced over the years, so faith is important.”
Gray said community was vital for King.
“His entire work, based on faith, was a faith that placed community first, over individualized lives,” he said. “He felt the best way of forcing change is through organizing communities and recapturing the power of the community that we are better together than we are when we are apart.”
King believed in the power of education, said Gray.
“He believed in education. He was a stellar student,” said Gray. “For many African-Americans and Latinos, education, depending on where we started in life, is the ticket toward upward mobility.”
During Gray’s keynote address, he hopes to draw from historical luminaries who give examples and inspirations of each of the theme’s subjects. His hope is for people to come and celebrate the life of one of America’s celebrated leaders.
“Dr. Martin Luther King is not an African-American leader or luminary. He is an American luminary,” he said. “I would say no matter who you are — if you’re in Hopkins County and surrounding counties — come and celebrate the life of one of our celebrated leaders.”
The celebration is being held in the Byrnes Auditorium at the Madisonville Community College Health Campus on Laffoon Street at 2 p.m. Saturday. Doors open for the event at 1 p.m.
“This event gives a chance for the community to come together — all ages, all colors — together as a collective unit, to not just remember King, the man, but to remember the principles that he stood for and fought for,” said Thomas.
At this year’s celebration, there will be several musical guests, a dance performance, as well as a scholarship presentation for two students from MCC and a presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Educator of the Year award.
For more information, contact Thomas at 270-836-2281.