The United Ebony Society of Gwinnett County held its 11th annual MLK Program and Parade Monday. Starting with a program that included music, singing, speeches and tributes, on the grounds of the Historic Gwinnett County Courthouse, an estimated crowd of 300 attendees gathered in the cold weather to pay homage to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joseph McCarty, President of United Ebony Society stated this event started in 2000 as a grass roots community based effort to recognize the many achievements and contributions that Dr. King made in his lifetime. “It is important for all of us to come together and celebrate the many good deeds of Dr. King’s legacy so that they are not forgotten,” said McCarty.
Kristin McNutt, 17, a Brookwood High School student and 18-year-old Nick Pullum, a student at Southwest DeKalb High School, were both in attendance to support their Hope and Life Fellowship Church Voices of Life Choir. They performed to remember fellow church member and United Ebony Society founder, Robbie Susan Moore who passed away in 2008 and to, as they said, urge more young people to come out and get involved, because the struggle still goes on for racial equality and against prejudice. “I am a witness that prejudice still exists,” said McNutt.
On hand were several elected officials who not only attended, but also took part in the program. The Honorable , Mayor of Lawrenceville, used a portion of her speech to draw comparison to today’s event to the Congress on the Corner event in Tucson, AZ where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others were shot while, like today’s crowd, peaceably assembling.
Gwinnett’s District 1 County Commissioner, Shirley Lasseter echoed the sentiments of many who attended when she said, “We are here today for all of the right reasons.” Catching up with Lasseter after her speech, she went on to say she has long admired and has been impressed with Dr. King’s ability to bring so many people together to accomplish very important goals during such turbulent times. “He managed to unify in such a difficult period while today in so called better times, we can’t seem to come together to agree on much. That’s why I am very impressed with this event, with (citizens) turnout and (the event’s) program,” said Lasseter.
Most, if not all, of the African-American founded fraternities and sororities were well represented at this event. “We felt it not only important for us (adults) to attend, but we also brought along our future generation as represented by our Little Miss AKA contestants”, stated Kathy Jackson, President of Gwinnett’s Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. “By bringing these young people out today we show not only what Dr. King made possible in the past, but what they can do to carry Dr. King’s legacy into the future”, said Jackson.
Gabriel Parks and Curt LeBlanc, elected officers of the Lawrenceville-Duluth Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., both expressed the importance of supporting all efforts that commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King while continuing to involve the next generation of leaders. “We view our attendance, participation and support of this event as a way to give something back to our communities through The United Ebony Society”, said Parks.
For first time attendee and Johns Creek resident Mela Furgerson-Neal, this event held in Gwinnett County meant she and her son, Devin, did not have to drive into downtown Atlanta to participate in holiday events honoring Dr. King. “I wanted to take Devin to show him, here in Gwinnett County, what Dr. King’s legacy means to so many people and how what Dr. King did has enabled me, his father and so many others to accomplish so much with better educations, as professionals and through community involvement.”
At the end of the program the crowd joined the Eastern Stars and Masons representing Lodges #594 and #588 along with the Meadowcreek High School Marching Band to participate in the one mile parade ending at .