By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On Monday, January 15, Gadsden’s 32nd Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was held at Convention Hall. WMGJ radio station sponsored the free public event.
The celebration featured a candle lighting ceremony to honor community members that were “foot soldiers who led us through some treacherous times,” according to WMGJ host Fred Zackary. WMGJ host David Lawsum lit the candles.
The keynote speaker was Anthony Daniels of Huntville, who is the minority leader of the Alabama House of Representatives.
Shane Ellison, admiistrative assistant to Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton said that King’s “vision must be a vision for all of us to follow, especially in government.” Ellison highlighted the city’s ongoing improvements, such as the new East Gadsden Community Center, the new Convention Hall at Coosa Landing and educational investments.
Ellison presented a key to the city to keynote speaker Anthony Daniels of Huntsville, who is the minority leader of the Alabama House of Representatives.
Daniels spoke about Dr. King’s vision to bring people together. He praised Gadsden on its community, and the members of the community that attended the event for supporting the community.
Daniels also spoke about divisions in the community and amongst political parties in America, and how opposing sides must unite to help one another.
“We must remember that at the end of the day, there are no Rs or Ds. There are only As. Alabamians and Americans. And we are all in this together.”
Daniels spoke about being raised by his grandparents, who were sharecroppers. He said that their vision was a better life for him. He expressed amazement that he was now in a position to better his own community.
Daniels recited a portion of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and asked attendees what “our dream will be.” He encouraged the youger generation to work towards the dreams of compassion and unity.
After Daniels speech, the Talladega College Choir held a concert. William S. Mitchell directed the choir as it performed gospel favorites for the crowd, which responded by clapping along and waving their hands.