BY CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —
A capacity crowd celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an inaugural event held Monday evening at the Historic Palace Theatre in Cape Charles.
The event, sponsored by Pastor Kelvin F. Jones and his church, First Baptist Church of Capeville, was billed as an evening of music and also included presentation of awards to five community leaders.
Sabrina Parker, a retired educator, was awarded the Dreamkeepers award. Parker also was mistress of ceremonies at the event.
Deacon Charles Bell was awarded the Drum Major for Social Justice award.
Willie Randall was awarded a philanthropy award and Matthew and Malik McCaskill were honored as upcoming philanthropists.
Performers included the Hampton Roads Boys Chorus, Northampton High School Chorus, Northampton High School Band, Jackie Faison-Elmandorf, students of Occohannock and Kiptopeke elementary schools, and retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Alvy Powell.
Pastor Janet Wheelock read scripture and Father Michael Imperial gave prayers.
John Coker, chairman of the Northampton County Board of Supevisors, and Cape Charles Mayor Adam Charney greeted the crowd.
“All of my life I have grown up hearing about the dream and the dreamer,” Jones said in a statement of purpose for the gathering.
Jones recalled how Northampton residents celebrated when then-President Ronald Reagan signed the law making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday and how residents marched to the courthouse green in Eastville to honor King’s legacy.
Still, Jones said King’s dream has not yet been fulfilled.
“The dream is a challenge tonight to all America,” he said.
“I believe that after 60 years of the dream being deferred and the dream being delayed, I believe that your presence in the Palace Theatre tonight is an indication that the dream cannot be denied,” Jones said.
Jones said he believes Northampton County “has decided to follow the path of diversity, equity, and inclusion for all the people.”
“I have hope tonight, after 60 years, Northampton County sees the day (MLK Jr. Day) as a day for all people, for all families, for every individual … to reach inside and see each other as friends, not foes,” Jones said.