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Dozens attend tribute to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

They came for a host of different reasons, all of them personal to the dozens of people paying tribute to and honoring the memory of the late Martin Luther King Jr. Monday morning during the 8th annual breakfast celebration in South Boston.

Sponsored by the L. E. Coleman African-American Museum, the breakfast got under way at 8 a.m. in The Prizery banquet hall touting the theme “Wake Up and Realize Your Dream.” 

As they ate breakfast with friends and family, many shared their personal reasons for attending the annual event.

Lilian Jeffress of South Boston said she came because she wanted to honor Dr. King’s memory for doing the things God called him to do.

“Every day is God’s day, so we need to celebrate every day. We need to thank the Lord for people like Martin Luther King who helped people to love the Lord and realize where our help cometh from,” Carl Pointer of Alton said.

Huebert Vass of the Sinai community said he came to support the L. E. Coleman Museum. 

“I think it’s important to instill into the younger kids the struggle that we had. I don’t know if some of them are aware or don’t care, but they need to know the ones who paved the way. It is very important,” Vass said.

Barbara Coleman Brown of Scottsburg said she came out to pay respect for the principles Dr. King stood for and the ideals for which he fought. 

“His legacy deserves us to make sacrifices because what he did in the past made for our future,” Coleman Brown said.

Those attending the celebration enjoyed breakfast and were entertained with performances by Spanish Grove Baptist Church Choir.   

L. E. Coleman African-American Museum President Earl Howerton Sr. and Founder Shirley Chandler greeted and welcomed those attending, and the Rev. Earl Howerton Jr. served as master of ceremonies for the annual celebration.

John W. Coleman of Clarksville, Maryland introduced his brother, Dwight Coleman, who gave the keynote address.

A native of Halifax County, Coleman is the son of the late Obie and Mattie Coleman of Nathalie and is a member of County Line Missionary Baptist Church.

A 1980 graduate of Halifax County High School, Coleman received a Bachelor of Science degree from Norfolk State University and later earned a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in international management from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Coleman, a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, has been employed with two Fortune 500 companies and currently is employed with Averitt Express, a transportation and logistics company based in Richmond.

His ultimate love and passion is farming, and he specializes in producing free-range non-hormonal top quality beef and pork.

“I greet all of you this morning with a sincere joy and happiness celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Coleman said.

He spoke of King, a man who did great things and dedicated his life to serving humanity. 

“He is the one who made it possible for us to enter through the front door, go ahead and drink from any water fountain you choose and stay at any hotel and eat at any restaurant,” Coleman said.

He described King as being “an unselfish man” who would like to share his day with the thousands of individuals who stood behind him and marched with him “for a cause that was just and a cause that was right.

“Today nearly 50 years after Dr. King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, some would like for us to believe the dream died when Dr. King was assassinated, but the dream is very much alive. The dream lives within you and myself,” he added. 

He told his audience, now is the time “for us to pick up the dedicated work that Dr. King started.”

Coleman also “reflected back” in an effort to “move forward.”

“We as adults need to learn to talk to young folk in a manner in which they realize it’s time to get serious,” Coleman said. “ Young folk need to learn to carry themselves in a manner that shows they mean business.”

He added that history is waiting patiently to repeat itself.

“We live in a society in which the scores from standardized tests given at the elementary school level are used to help predict future inmate populations,” Coleman said. “We’re living in a time where technology is becoming a full-time babysitter. Ipad, Ipod, Iphone …  the I’s have it, and so shall it be.”

Children come to the table texting their friends instead of talking to their parents, he said. 

“How can we expect anything better or different from our children when we as parents, adult role models and leaders, are sadly addicted to the same crippling behaviors. The I’s still have it, and so shall it be,” Coleman said.

“In the words of Dr. King, nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” Coleman said encouraging parents to get involved in their child’s education.

“Many thought that having a black president in 2008 was a slim possibility, yet on this very day approximately 200 miles north, President Barack Hussain Obama is celebrating his second term as President of the United States of America,” Coleman continued.

No other president has endured as many death threats, and even death threats on the lives of his wife and children, according to the keynote speaker.

“No other president has faced as much opposition from both Houses of Congress. Facing tremendous opposition, he was able to pass the largest health care bill since President Franklin Roosevelt,” Coleman said.

 He concluded with a quote from Martin Luther King: “‘Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’”