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Trenton MLK Day speakers focus on choices

By Crystal Burns

Last week’s snow and ice pushed Trenton’s 30th annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Sunday night at First Baptist Church on Gibson Road, but it didn’t dampen the participants’ spirits.

“We could not let this time pass because it means so much to all of us,” said Rev. Darrick Theus, pastor of the host church.

The Gibson County Youth Choir performed a selection of songs, and young soloists paid tribute to King’s legacy while speakers Dr. Juanita Johnson, Rev. Anthony Bell, and Sonya Dodd fleshed out the theme of “Voiceless – Choiceless” by encouraging adults to vote.

Bell, pastor of Pleasant View Missionary Baptist Church in Sharon, was the keynote speaker. He read from Exodus chapter 3 and drew comparisons between God’s calling of Moses and King. Bell talked about King’s nonviolent approach to protesting civil rights violations but also reminded the congregation of Malcolm X’s declaration “by any means necessary,” saying that means is voting.

“Get out and vote,” Bell said. “It kills me that we sit up here as a people – not only black but white – and complain but don’t do anything to find a solution. Dr. King did not see that for the race.”

Johnson provided the overview of the theme and touted King’s contributions to all mankind.

“He had a voice, and now we have choices,” she said. “Where there is no voice, there is no choice. We all have a voice through the election process.”

Dodd, who organizes the annual event, encouraged those who weren’t registered to vote to see volunteers in the church lobby for help registering.

“Be more accountable to yourself,” she said. “Voting isn’t a right; it’s a privilege.”

Paul Lacey, pastor of Martin Tabernacle CME Church, served as toastmaster. Trenton Mayor Ricky Jackson read and presented a proclamation in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Zi’Yon Hart. He also recognized city officials in attendance, and County Clerk Joyce Brown introduced county officials.

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