01/19/10 — City gathers to remember message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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City gathers to remember message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Laura Collins
Published in News on January 19, 2010 1:46 PM

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Northeast Elementary School fifth-grader Jordan Godbee sings a devotional song in honor of Dr. King.

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Dr. Melissa Exum, dean of students at UNC-Chapel Hill, speaks to the more than 500 attendees of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast Celebration at the Goldsboro-Raleigh Assembly on Monday morning. Dr. Exum urged those gathered to remember Dr. King's birthday as a call to action recalling the event's theme, "A Day On, Not a Day Off."

More than 500 people gathered Monday morning to remember and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the birthday celebration breakfast, featured speaker Dr. Melissa Exum, dean of students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, delivered a powerful message to those in attendance. She warned against getting caught up in the quotes and clich├ęs of Dr. King and encouraged people to pay attention to his works.

"Let's not get caught up in the dream and forget about the works that created the dream. Let's get caught up in the works," Dr. Exum said. "You have to work to get those dreams."

She spoke of several lessons she learned from Dr. King throughout her life.

"First and foremost the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a follower of Jesus Christ," she said. "We have to understand who Jesus really was and what he did. Jesus was a radical, he was a revolutionary and I would argue that he was probably the first feminist that existed," she said. "When we fast-forward to Dr. King's life, he stated that freedom was not voluntarily given, it must be demanded."

She also spoke on the event's theme, "A Day On Not a Day Off," and said, "The man was a non-conformist. He didn't just say please, he demanded. Does that man sound like someone who wanted his legacy to be honored by being used as a long weekend, relaxation and sales? He urged us to live a life of unselfish service and his words and deeds set in motion many long overdue actions that profoundly changed society. His life promoted change that was so desperately needed."

She encouraged people to stay determined and to accept Dr. King's challenge.

"These words should inspire us today -- not tomorrow, not when we're rested, not when we have the ever-popular enough money, not when we have it all together. It calls us to action today," she said. "Get up, get out and get into it. Get it on to be strong, to make a difference."

She said people should focus on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless and mentoring young people.

"Where do you stand? What are you fighting for? What are you living for?" Dr. Exum asked.

Her message received a standing ovation from those in attendance. Goldsboro Mayor Al King said he believes it made an impact.

"What Martin Luther King did was something really special," he said. "And whenever we meet on a day like today and to have this many people show up, and it's bi-racial, this is something very special for Goldsboro and Wayne County."

City council member Michael Headen agreed.

"This event was wonderful and powerful," he said. "This was not a day off, this was a day on. This is a day of service and you need to make every day count. Everyone who was present took to heart her message and the commitment."

Also at the breakfast, city council member Bishop Charles Williams delivered the invocation and benediction and asked people to remember those suffering in Haiti and to help join together to meet the needs and respond to human suffering.

Northeast Elementary fifth-grader Jordan Godbee performed the song "Never Would Have Made It," and also received a standing ovation. He thanked God for allowing him to sing the song and honor Dr. King.