CHARLES TOWN – Organizers of Sunday’s annual Freedom Trail March here say they’re drawing inspiration from the loving approach Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to finally dismantle segregation in the South.
The Jefferson County chapter of the NAACP sponsors the event each year.
“Love was such a central part of Dr. King’s work,” said William Gregg Jr., one of the organizers of the march, which will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Charles Town Library at 200 E. Washington St. “We think this year’s theme, loving, provides an important message.”
Participants will march along Washington Street to South Lawrence Street and then enter the Betty Roper Auditorium at Wright Denny Intermediate School at 209 W. Congress St. for the formal program that begins at 3 p.m.
The theme for this year’s event – “Crossing Bridges to a Just Society … One Heart at a Time” – is a reminder of King’s “unswerving belief in the power of love and personal transformation in building the ‘beloved community’ in which we will have at last bridged the final barriers of prejudice and injustice,” according to Gregg.
The Rev. Melanie McCarley of Zion Episcopal Church in Charles Town will deliver the day’s keynote address. Others taking part in the program: the Wright Denny Choir, Janet Jeffries of the Jefferson County NAACP and Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith.
King would have turned 85 this year. Born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929, he became a clergyman and then an activist in the civil rights movement. At 35, he became the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace,” King said Dec. 10, 1964, during his Nobel acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway. “If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.
“The foundation of such a method is love.”
The idea of creating a holiday in memory of King began not long after his assassination April 4, 1968. King, 39, was gunned down as he stood on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tenn., where he’d gone to lead a protest in sympathy for the city’s striking garbage workers.
President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to create the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. The holiday was first observed in 1986, but it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states observed MLK Day.
Want to go?
What: The Jefferson County NAACP’s annual Freedom Trail March
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: The march begins at the Charles Town Library at 200 E. Washington St. and concludes with a formal program
at Wright Denny Intermediate School at 209 W. Congress St. in Charles Town.
To know more: Contact organizer William Gregg (firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-535-2351).