Hundreds gather to pay tribute to civil rights leader
By Matt Caulder
Published in News on January 20, 2014 1:46 PM
More than 400 attendees of the 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration at the Goldsboro Raleigh Assembly move through the breakfast buffet line this morning.
A last-minute surge in ticket sales brought the 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration at the Goldsboro Raleigh Assembly to life this morning with close to 400 participants, city officials said.
The event featured breakfast and a speaker to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King.
"People are more excited about the Martin Luther King Jr. program every year," Goldsboro Community Affairs Director Laterrie Ward said. "Every year we try to get someone who actually knew Dr. King."
James Stewart, a native of Birmingham, Ala., spoke at this year's program, recounting his experiences marching with the Civil Rights Movement in 1963.
"I was a foot soldier in the 1963 Birmingham children's march," Stewart said. "I was 15 years old. Dr. King had been in Birmingham before leading marches and this was the first time they started releasing dogs against marchers and using hoses."
Wayne County Commission Vice Chairman Ed Cromartie and Goldsboro Mayor Al King welcomed the participants to the event in the chapel following an invocation by Goldsboro City Councilman Charles Williams.
"This event is something that deserves an annual celebration," Cromartie said during the breakfast. "It deserves attention. It reminds everyone what King did for civil rights. It's good for our children to hear this so they know, too. We need these events to point us in the right direction and ensure we don't forget where we came from."
Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Board President Terry Light volunteers with the event and also serves on its planning committee.
"This has become one of my favorite events of the year," she said. "It's such an uplifting event. The fellowship is my favorite thing."
Ivory Murphy of Goldsboro came out to the event for his fifth time.
"I think it's a good event, and its good of the city of Goldsboro to put it on," he said. "It's good, the community gathering as one."
Breakfast was served at 7:30 a.m. but the room was already packed soon after 7.
"It's good, giving the community a time to reflect on the history of the United States," said Chris Humphrey of Mount Olive. "How we didn't have the equality and now you do. It's amazing that we can all sit down in the same room and fellowship together."
Beatrice Jones of Fremont came to the breakfast last year and decided to make a repeat trip for this year's program.
"It was so inspirational last time that I had to come back again this year," she said.