WARRENTON, Ga. - The civil rights legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was remembered in a special ceremony by more than 250 people who packed the Warren County Courtroom on Monday.
Prior to the tribute to Dr. King, about 100 people participated in a foot-walk from the county government services building to the county courthouse. The march was led by Thomson resident, the Rev. Nathaniel Jones, Sr., pastor of Walkers Chapel CME Church in Norwood. The group sang songs as they made their way through downtown, including one of the oldest civil rights songs, We Shall Overcome.
The celebration came just a day before the inauguration of Barack Obama, as the first black man to become elected to serve as president of the United States. Mr. Obama, who had been known as President-elect, is now officially President Obama.
"From dreams to reality," remarked the Rev. G. L. Avery, chairman of the Martin Luther King Committee and pastor of Union Spring Baptist Church, who served as master of ceremony. "We're on our way now."
Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs told the crowd that as proud as he is to tell people that he is from Warrenton, that sometimes there are differences among the people that live there.
He noted, though, that he is proud to say, "We have much more to unite us than we have to divide us."
Warren County Commission Chairman John Graham said he is pleased that so many people are working together to move Warren County forward. As an example, he pointed to the cooperation between the Warren County Board of Commissioners, the Warren County Board of Education and Warrenton City Council.
"We need to forget about who's going to get the glory and pat on the back," Mr. Graham said. "We've just all got to dig in to help make Warren County all it can be."
Dr. King was devoted to the teachings of God and service to mankind - having become the youngest man ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
Gwendolyn Tucker, chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Education, pointed out that Dr. King was a non-violent person and always advocated peaceful marches during the civil rights era.
Ms. Tucker said Dr. King strongly believed in peace, love and harmony.
The Rev. Charles Belton said anyone could and can be great like Dr. King, who first was a preacher of the word of Jesus Christ. Dr. King was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Another preacher, the Rev. Larry Carter, pastor of New Hope Powellton Baptist Church, served as guest speaker for the tribute paid to Dr. King, titled, "From Dream to Reality: A Legacy of Hope."
Although Rev. Carter addressed some of the things that Dr. King stood for and believed in, he placed emphasis on the importance of everyone getting to know Jesus Christ.
He outlined his address with three words: Peace, Freedom and Change.
"Dr. King was a peaceful man and he wanted his people to be peaceful - a people of peace," Rev. Carter said. "If you're going to have peace and calm, you must have Jesus Christ in your life. He provides that inward peace. It stays there, no matter what you might be weathering in your life."
In addition, Dr. King also stood for freedom. Rev. Carter quoted scripture, saying, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
He stressed the importance of black folk not being enslaved any longer - that today, they are free men and women. But, he explained, there are blacks and whites who still find themselves in slavery today.
"They are slaves to sin," Rev. Carter said.
The third word referred to by the guest speaker was change.
One such change in American history already has occurred with President Obama becoming the first black man elected to the country's highest office.
"Another change is when Jesus Christ comes into your life," Rev. Carter said. "He can change your heart and life and put love into your heart."
During the special tribute to Dr. King, members of the Martin Luther King Ensemble, led by Director Brandon Lynn, sang a number of songs. A reception later was held at the government services building in Warrenton, which drew a number of those same people.