What is Martin Luther King Jr. Day without King High School’s annual event? The 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards and March turned into a two-day celebration themed “The Audacity to Believe…The Dream Lives!”
It is a time when the community comes together to witness representations of King’s beliefs for all people. Different groups, clubs, and organizations like the United Automobile Workers extend their support to make this successful.
“Each year the theme set the tone and our message to support Dr. King’s legacy. It was important it related to Dr. King’s words, vision, and drive his legacy to the masses,” said UAW International Representative Michael Joseph. “The Audacity to Believe reflected Dr. King and our country being daring to believe in living in a world of love, peace, and justice.”
In prior years, the activities were showcased in one day. The community observed skits, presentations, living museum, awards program, and participated in the March. The organizers decided one day is not enough time to adequately represent the message. Principal Deborah Jenkins suggested the two-day change.
“It has always been a very difficult challenge to give each segment the focus it deserved due to time constraints. We were very grateful to see such strong attendance for both days,” said Joseph.
None of the activities would have been successful without the hands-on involvement of King’s students. Aside from preparing through the night, they had an opportunity to continue learning because of the exhibits.
“It was a very good experience. I got to learn a lot of things I didn’t know about black history,” said junior Treasure Gales.
The awards ceremony honored radio icons like Mildred Gaddis, Frankie Darcell, and the late Cliff Russell.
“These legendary media giants have been ‘telling it on the mountain’ about our civil and human rights struggle as well as being very involved in the community making a difference. They not only ‘talked the talk’ on the radio but they ‘walked the walk’ in the community,” said Joseph.
William “Bill” Lucy, president emeritus of the Coalition of the Black Trade Unionists, the largest labor organization for people of color with members around the world, was recognized for his work with Dr. King and Nelson Mandela.
“Dr. King came to Memphis to assist the sanitation workers because Mr. Lucy invited him. Mr. Lucy and Dr. King were friends and colleagues. Mr. Lucy was on stage with Dr. King when he gave his final public speech, “I Have Seen the Promised Land” (“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”),” said Joseph.
“The Mandela family invited Mr. Lucy to speak at his funeral,” said Joseph.