01/20/04 — 500 attend MLK event

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500 attend MLK event

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 20, 2004 2:02 PM

Students from 13 county schools portrayed black historical figures Monday, testing the knowledge of the 500 audience members at Goldsboro's Martin Luther King celebration.

Characters ranged from actress Ruby Dee and politician Barbara Jordan to the inventor of the automatic gear shift, Richard Spikes.

"Who am I?" asked second-grader Sharras Wallace. "I was the first African American to be elected mayor of the city of Goldsboro."

Goldsboro Mayor Al King, seated near the stage, eagerly raised his hand to answer the question. Someone else was chosen, though, to announce King's name as the answer.

Celebrations in honor of Dr. King were begun 19 years ago by the federal government, said Regina Harvey of the local planning committee. They have been held in North Carolina for 17 years and sponsored by the city of Goldsboro and its community affairs office for 16 years.

"It's a time to come together to help espouse the dream by Dr. Martin Luther King," Ms. Harvey said.

Since the breakfast was first organized, it has grown from 85 attendees to 500. Held this year at H.V. Brown Hall on Poplar Street, there was a waiting list of 104 people, she said.

Mayor King said it was his fourth or fifth event in the past week honoring Dr. King, and this event was by far the largest.

"It appears that we can accommodate even more," he said. "I am sure Martin Luther King is looking down on us and is pleased with what he sees."

Ken Gerrard, chairman of the Wayne County commissioners, was also featured on the program.

"I hope during the day sometime you are thinking about why you came and what it's about," he said.

The Charles B. Aycock High School jazz band, directed by Roger Walker, provided music throughout the morning, and three grants were also announced.

Earnest Waters of Goldsboro is a member of the state Martin Luther King Commission and served on the grants committee this year.

He said the three recipients from Wayne County were excellent candidates.

The Family Y Wayne Area Role Models with Heart mentor program and the Dillard Alumni Association, which offers an after-school tutorial program, each received checks for $1,000.

LaTerrie Ward, Goldsboro director of community affairs, received a grant for $500. She has helped coordinate the annual breakfast throughout the years.

"Ms. Ward has done very well as far as Goldsboro is concerned," Waters said. "She has carried the legacy on ever since" the event "began."