As it has annually for more than 40 years now, the Ocean City community came together on Saturday (Jan. 18) to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Speaker and singers reflected on King's lasting impact on the nation in a noon program at the Bill and Nancy Hughes Performing Arts Center at Ocean City High School.
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said King's legacy lives on at the local food cupboard, at churches throughout town and in volunteer efforts throughout the year.
"Baby, it's on your generation now," the Rev. Marcie Stanford's grandmother told her after King was assassinated in 1968.
The Macedonia United Methodist Church pastor said King taught her, in part, about the power of words, the power of focused perseverance and the power of doing it God's way.
"Dr. King fought not only for blacks, not only for whites, but for the American Dream," the Rev. Gregory Johnson of Shiloh Baptist Church said.
Johnson talked about the unity of the Ocean City community — particularly in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
"That's what I always liked about Ocean City," Johnson said. "When it's time to come together, let nobody stand against us."
One highlight of the annual event is Johnson's reading of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and this year's rendition was equally moving.
The celebration also included: the singing of Charles Jerkins; a presentation honoring the service of Rebecca Wilson, Frank Donato and Scott Morgan; an invocation from the Rev. Drena Garrett of St. James AME Church; a scripture reading from the Rev. Paul Jerkins of Shiloh Baptist Church, introductions by Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo; slide shows on King's life and on the rebuilding of churches after Sandy; and other musical selections.
The annual celebration in Ocean City was initiated a few years after King's death by the late Rozelia Cobb, a beloved teacher at the Ocean City Intermediate School.
The program was followed by a free dinner in the high school cafeteria prepared by members of Shiloh Baptist Church.
The Martin Luther King Day observance continues Monday with an annual Day of Service.
DAY OF SERVICE
The City of Ocean City in conjunction with the Ocean City Clean Communities Program will hold the annual citywide clean up on Monday, Jan. 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. Families, individuals and groups are encouraged to volunteer and help.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service marks the beginning of the year of service as millions of Americans honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and volunteer their time to improve their communities. Ocean City has participated in the Day of Service since 2008.
Volunteers should register and pick up supplies beginning at 9 a.m. at the Howard S. Stainton Senior Center located at 1735 Simpson Avenue and should wear appropriate clothing and footwear. The city will provide gloves and trash bags.
All volunteers are invited back to the Howard S. Stainton Senior Center after the clean up for food and warm beverages.
Groups or organizations wishing to participate should call the Ocean City Public Works Department at 609-399-6111 ext. 9710 or 9711.