King Day services focus on hope, service, healing

By Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 1/25/2013, noon
Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young challenged nearly 2,000 attendees at The King Center’s “Salute to Greatness Dinner” last week to ...
Ebenezer Baptist Church rocked with messages of hope and healing this week during the 45th annual Martin Luther King Annual Commemorative Service on Monday, King’s official holiday (Photo by Vincent Christie).

ATLANTA – Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young challenged nearly 2,000 attendees at The King Center’s “Salute to Greatness Dinner” last week to honor King’s dream by recommitting to serving the needy in society.

“We’ve got to find a way to continue [King’s dream] to feed the hungry and cloth the naked all over the world,” Young told dinner attendees. “And by you coming to this dinner, you have volunteered to be a part of that movement… Don’t let this harvest pass.”

Young was among the dignitaries and donors who attended the annual fundraiser co-hosted by former WSB anchor Monica Kaufman and V103 personality Frank Ski at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

The dinner honors people who have demonstrated King’s philosophy of non-violence, officials said. Proceeds go to the upkeep of The King Center and its various programs to carry on King’s legacy.

Young said King’s life served as a beacon for his own.

“It’s important for me to be here tonight because everything that ever happened to me is because of my involvement with the life and the spirit of Martin Luther King,” the former Atlanta mayor said. “He gave his life at 39, but his spirit must continue to do its work through us.”

One of the unsung “foot soldiers” honored at the dinner was Rev. Albert E. Love, senior pastor of Boat Rock Baptist Church.

“I’m proud to be here and I’m still in the trenches, because at the Martin Luther King March and Rally I’ll be signing up people to vote,” said Love, who heads of the Fulton Empowerment Collaborative.

Bishop Dr. Barbara King, senior pastor of Hillside International Chapel and Truth Center. also was named a foot soldier.

“When Dr. King brought the movement to Chicago, I was a part of that movement,” she said. “And because of that, Xernona Clayton put my shoe prints in the Freedom Walk by the MLK Visitors Center. So it’s an honor for me to be here at 83 years old.”

The evening also included a video tribute to Jesse Hill, the former head of Atlanta Life Insurance Company who developed the idea for the annual dinner.

“Almost everything good that happened in Atlanta from the 1960’s to 2000 Jesse Hill had his hand in,” Young said of Hill, who died last month at age 86. “I wouldn’t have been elected to Congress and Maynard [Jackson] wouldn’t have been elected mayor if not for him.”

The Honorable James “Jay” Roberson, Jr. of the Birmingham, Alabama City Council was honored with the inaugural Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. award.

Roberson created the “100 Days of Nonviolence” campaign, which started October 2010 and ended on MLK Day in 2011 without one person under age 18 dying as a result of a violent act.

Grammy award-winning singer Howard Hewitt inspired the audience with his popular song, “Say Amen.”

“This is a great, great honor to be here tonight, especially with the 50th anniversary of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and with the ‘Second Time Around’ (ha ha) Inauguration of our President on Monday,” Hewitt said with a laugh, referring to the popular 1979 hit, “Second Time Around,” recorded by Hewitt and his group, Shalamar.

The evening ended with everyone joining hands and singing the movement song, “We Shall Overcome.”

Dr. King’s sister, Christine King Farris concluded: “If my brother were here today he’d say keep moving on. We still have much to accomplish.”