Valdosta Daily Times

January 5, 2014

Banquet honors legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Desiree Murphy
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta-Lowndes County Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Association held its 29th Annual Founders’ Banquet Saturday night. The theme of this year’s banquet was “After Fifty Years, What Has Happened To The Dream?”

Sixty-two decorated tables seated the roughly 650 attendees of this year’s event. Guests were treated to a variety of speakers and soloists who inspired the hearts of everyone in the room of the James H. Rainwater Conference Center. People of all ages attended this event, including college student Eric Lewis Cureton Jr. who is the son of committee members Eric and Wanda Cureton.

“This event is to get together, enjoy local talent, and show love,” said Cureton. “It’s a way to start the new year off right.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Association is a group consisting of community leaders and concerned citizens. During its 29 years, the association has sought to show the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate the impact his legacy has on people today.

Patricia McRae, an association vice president, explained that the committee works for months to prepare for this event as well as the other events held by the association throughout the year.

“This event is to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and the impact he made on the whole world,” says McRae. “It helps us to remember how far we have come and how far we hope to go.”

A special award known as A Candle in the Dark is given annually to someone who is a vital character in the community. This year’s recipient is Mara S. Register. A current faculty

member of the Governmental Training, Education and Development Division, Register has received other recognitions through the years for all of her work with the federal, regional, and local government and her work to serve the public.

The keynote speaker for this year’s banquet was the Rev. Dr. Perry Simmons Jr. Born in nearby Cairo, he served the ministry at various churches throughout Georgia until moving to New Jersey where he is the pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the city of Newark and the author of three books along with more than 2,000 sermons and papers. Simmons has helped the community through his Simmons Scholarship and Community Service corporation, which has provided more than $400,000 in scholarships, and is also the founder and executive director of the Newark Adult Youth Drug Prevention Partnership Program.

The next Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet will be held Jan. 3, 2015, at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center. All money raised from ticket sales for the banquet is used to further benefit the community.