Although not completely there yet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be amazed to see the accomplishments of many black Americans: from the first president, secretary of state and Supreme Court justice to leaders of our military forces, colleges and corporations and head coaches in the NFL and at major universities.
Here in Beeville, efforts began 25 years ago to organize a march and ceremony to honor the memory of the slain civil rights leader. Dr. King would have been 60 years old on his birthday that year.
About 125 people, including elected officials, civic and religious leaders and a U.S. Navy color guard from NAS Chase Field, sang “We Shall Overcome” as they marched from the courthouse to the Bethlehem Baptist Church to attend the ceremony that featured hymns, prayer and speeches.
Vernon Hodge recited excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was originally delivered to a crowd of 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.
The Rev. J.D. White, former pastor at the church, described the ceremony as a joyous, not sad, occasion and he remembered King as a “dedicated man who did good not only for the United States, but for all the world.”
Next Monday, on the 25th anniversary of Beeville’s first MLK march and 50 years after King’s famous speech in Washington, much remains the same.
The crowd will gather on the courthouse lawn and, after a brief opening ceremony and prayer at 10:30 a.m., will march to Bethlehem Baptist Church. The A.C. Jones High School band will play and the Beeville Men’s Chorus will perform at the church.
Speakers for the event will include County Judge David Silva, Mayor David Carabajal, Rev. Willie Wilson, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church who now resides in Dallas, and guest speaker, Dr. G.V. Clark, pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Austin and president of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas.
It should be an emotional, historic occasion, and organizers, such as Martha Stovall, are hoping for a larger turnout than usual.
We encourage everyone who is able to attend Monday’s Freedom March and ceremony. A nice-sized crowd, representing all ages, races, creeds and colors, would champion King’s ideals of equality.