01/17/11 — Remembering Dr. King's dream

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Remembering Dr. King's dream

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 17, 2011 1:46 PM

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Byron Bernard Motley, keynote speaker at the Goldsboro Community Affairs Department's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast and celebration, talks with Joshua Williams, 5, a student at Carver Heights School, early this morning. Motley is the son of the only living Negro League umpire.

For Mayor Al King, the continuation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is about toning down violence in America.

"We need some adults in this country to stand up and address an issue -- firearms, weapons, violence," he said. "I will speak out against this as long as I live."

For Wayne County Commissioner J.D. Evans, it's about maintaining the vision set forth during the Civil Rights Movement.

"Keep marching to erect walls of hope," he said. "We are all on the same team."

And for Byron Bernard Motley, making progress means remembering the days before integration -- days like those his father, Bob, spent umpiring in the Negro Leagues and serving as a Montford Point Marine.

Hundreds of Wayne residents came together at the Goldsboro-Raleigh Assembly this morning to honor the legacy of one of the nation's most recognizable civil leaders, as Goldsboro's Community Affairs Department hosted yet another Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast and celebration.

And while Motley, a self-proclaimed "historian," was called on to give the keynote address -- one that focused on the history of the Negro Leagues -- the man who seemingly evoked the most emotional reaction from the crowd was Congressman G.K. Butterfield.

He talked about just how progressive Eastern North Carolina was during the Civil Right era.

"You have led the way in this state," he said.

And then he gave a history of King -- one many in that audience had probably never heard before, Butterfield said; one that showed just why this part of the country was so significant.

When an African-American appeared on the ballot for North Carolina governor, King, Butterfield said, committed himself to the cause of increasing voter registration among blacks in the state.

So he planned a trip to a small stretch in the eastern part of the state -- one that would have likely brought him to Wayne County.

But his trip, Butterfield said, was postponed when he was called on urgent business to Memphis, Tenn. -- the city where, days later, he was assassinated.

King, the congressman continued, never made it back to eastern North Carolina.

But his legacy, Butterfield said, should remain with those who live there forever.

"Martin Luther King transformed America," he said. "Today, these type of programs are happening all over the country. But the one here in Goldsboro is especially significant."