MLK celebration was different this year

By Alexa Hone, Media Intern
Published on Monday, February 1, 2016

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Rev. James Hellams, the keynote speaker's message was “It’s not enough to quote ‘I have a dream.'

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Rev. James Hellams, the keynote speaker's message was “It’s not enough to quote ‘I have a dream.'"


Enlarge photo

The singing of the Black National Anthem ended the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.

File Photo

The singing of the Black National Anthem ended the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.


Chills ran up my spine, tears filled my eyes and unspoken gratefulness occupied my soul. This particular day, Jan. 18 at Greer City Hall was the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

In the past it was a day off of school for me. This year was different.

“It’s not enough to quote ‘I have a dream,’” Rev. James Hellams, the keynote speaker, said.

I found myself intrigued by the passion, the faith and the over-arching support of a standing room only event at the City Hall Event Center. I have never been surrounded by such a beautiful culture who embraced its past and loved its future. They were connected on something greater than the celebration of equality.

Embracing the lyrics of songs from the New Salem All Male chorus, hands came together and individuals stood dancing. The lyrics “You thought I was worth dying for” continued to move me, as a permanent picture of thanks and praise was painted in my mind.

The day was more than about MLK. The way people united as a family and embraced their faith was a movement that continues to challenge mine. I left with the feeling of wanting more.

The day speaks volumes about the individuals who fought for freedom, their history and the dreams we continue to have.

Blinded by color and the differences within humans, we are one and together is how dreams become reality. Striving for progress, Hellams stood firmly and demanded that as “Dreamers we must learn how to work together.”

Martin Luther King chased his dream. He held it in his hand as he stood in front of thousands to declare the future. Murmurs of “Amen” were heard. City Councilman Wayne Griffin said, “It’s not where you live, it’s how you live.”

There was passion, forgiveness, appreciation and empowerment. It’s almost like my eyes were bound shut for all my years. The song “Take me to the King” made it clear the community is full of servants for Christ.

“If we keep our hand in our master’s hand we will make it through all times,” Hellams said as he ended his message.

I rummaged through those moments where I was left speechless, the times where I doubted my ability, my future. As my eyes wandered, I was filled with hope and inspiration to never give up.

It was demonstrated what it means to love first, dream hard, pursue freedom, and embody equality.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

February is African American History Month

• Alexa Hone is a senior at the University of South Carolina Upstate maintaining a 3.8 grade point average. A three-year captain with the soccer team, Alexa is Vice President of the Atlantic Sun Conference for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a campus leader, coached youth at Carolina Elite Soccer Association (CESA) and has volunteered at several non-profits in Spartanburg.




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