Ashe County residents gathered to celebrate the long and rich history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy he left behind at the Ashe County Arts Center Monday evening.
The keynote speaker, an author and poet named Glenis Redmond, shared her writings and reflections with everyone in attendance.
“Every time I hear King speak - I feel a rumble. Every time I hear King speak - my soul stands up. Every time his oceanic voice ripples - that fist sized organ in my chest quakes a pleasant storm,” said Redmond in her poem “Peace be Still.”
Redmond quoted King on several occasions.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” quoted Redmond from King.
Redmond also made sure the audience stayed involved in the celebration by leading a call and response, which she said “is made for everyone, even if your not from that tradition.
Before Redmond’s presentation, Sharon Kasel and Zamian Gwyn re-introduced Dr. King by narrating his writings and life story.
They began by talking about his birth, his faith, and his first encounters with Coretta Scott, his future wife.
At first, King wasn’t sure about Scott because he heard she wasn’t that religious, and she wasn’t sure about him because she heard he was short.
As they grew to know each other, King discovered her faith was under the surface and deeper than anyone he had ever known; and while King never grew any taller on the outside - on the inside - he became a giant.
As the narrators read King’s biography, the audience was captivated by his successes and struggles during the Civil Rights Movement.
During the protest of Birmingham, King was arrested and thrown in jail on April 13, 1963. Ironically, this arrest was made 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
This arrest inspired one of Dr. Kings most famous writings titled “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
(For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”) wrote King.
Soon after, King delivered what many call his most famous speech titled “I have a Dream,” on Aug. 28, 1963.
“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” said King during his famous speech.
After continuing to spread his message of equality and holding fast to his philosophy of non-violent protest, King was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. on April 4, 1968.
Just before his death, King was held be his best friend Ralph Abernathy. Abernathy would later say even though King couldn’t speak, his eyes seemed to say “it isn’t over, it’s just in other people’s hands now.”
The emotional and passionate celebration was put together by the Ashe Arts Council as a way to commemorate both Dr. King and how far we’ve progressed.
Music for the event was provided by Diane Bryan-Leeper and choir, and an opening prayer was lead by Reverend Silas Hart.