The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered as a man of vision -- a man way ahead of his time -- during special services held at Vanderhorst C.M.E. Church in Thomson on Monday.
Local government offices, area schools and some businesses were closed Monday in observance of the national holiday, which honors the slain civil rights leader. Dr. King also was remembered by a number of black churches in both McDuffie and Warren counties last weekend and again on Monday.
Area church congregations and youth groups united for what was called "A Shared Day of Observance" at Vanderhorst C.M.E. Church in Thomson on Monday. Abundant Life Church, Springfield Baptist Church, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and St. James A.M.E. Church also participated.
One of the highlights of that particular gathering was the reading of The Rosa Parks Story .
Later in the day, Vanderhorst C.M.E. Church Pastor John Smalley spoke about Then and Now .
The Rev. Smalley, who also is a member of Thomson City Council, spoke with The McDuffie Mirror about a number of questions regarding the special tributes to Dr. King.
"He was a visionary man," said the Rev. Smalley. "He was a man who took his calling to preach and lead civil rights gatherings seriously. Dr. King was also a man who believed in putting into action his words."
The Rev. Smalley pointed out that were Dr. King alive today, he certainly would address many topics, including how proud he was that a black man had been elected president of the United States -- President Obama - not because of the color of his skin, but because he was America's choice to lead America.
"I think Dr. King might have said, too, that we've accomplished much since the early struggles of the civil rights days, but there's a long ways to go," added the Rev. Smalley.
The local pastor believes Dr. King would be striving today to get Americans to get more involved in their communities -- whether small or large.
"I think he would be talking about the importance of not just occupying our neighborhoods, but getting more involved in government affairs, education, church and attending government meetings," the Rev. Smalley said. "I think he'd also want us to take time to look across the fence and get to know one another as neighbors, too. We can help each other so much more, if we take the time to get to know one another."
The Rev. Smalley echoed what Dr. Roy Jackson, a retired educator and administrator at Savannah State University, shared with those who attended The ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. banquet held at Vanderhorst C.M.E. Church last Saturday night.
"His message was the same: get involved in every aspect of the community," the Rev. Smalley said.
An estimated 150 people, including dozens of teenagers from the McDuffie County School System and area churches, meanwhile, gathered at the Thomson Depot on Monday afternoon and walked along Main Street to the McDuffie County Courthouse and McDuffie County Board of Education Central Office. They then journeyed across Main Street to Springfield Baptist Church. At all three sites, prayers were offered for political, educational and spiritual leaders.
Many of the walkers donned T-shirts that read: "Stand together as a nation devoted to keeping the dream alive." A host of walkers carried signs -- some reading: Down with gangs and guns; and encouraging people to get an education and spiritual upbringing in their communities.
Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry said it was "a great day" in Thomson and "a great turnout." He added that he was most appreciative of the opportunity to have participated.
The oldest man on the walk was 91-year-old Wade Zellars, of Lincolnton -- a member of St. Luke Baptist Church.
Walkers were led in singing religious songs and old civil rights chants by the Rev. Dennis Quinn, of Lincolnton.
The walk was spearheaded by Springfield Baptist Church Pastor Frederick Favors, who also is a member of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners.
Asked what Dr. King might think if he were alive today, the Rev. Favors replied, "We have made great strides. There have been many breath-taking advances in science, industry and technology, but yet we have a distance to go -- so the struggle continues. As long as there are wars and rumors of wars and there are 6.5 billion people or 57 percent of the world's population living in poverty, then we must continue the struggle to help where we can -- like in the case of the earthquake in Haiti."