Events to mark MLK day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2000

Operation: Be Proud’s ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 13, 2000

Operation: Be Proud’s ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Celebration next week will feature a video tour of Ironton’s civil rights past.

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After a 6:30 p.m. candlelight march, participants can gather at Ohio University Southern Campus’s Bowman Auditorium at 7 p.m. to listen to Ironton residents reflect on civil rights events of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, OBP president Robert Pleasant Jr. said.

"The idea is that we want to really take a look at where we’ve come from and where we want to go," Pleasant said. "The time for hatred and violence and self-centeredness is over if we are ever to grow as a nation and a community."

OUSC’s media and video classes put the historic video presentation together.

OBP volunteer Belinda Brown, who is helping organize the night’s events, said people will be amazed at what they see on the screen, like when Ironton’s public pool was segregated.

"For African-Americans, the only evening they could swim was Monday evenings," Ms. Brown said, adding that changed in 1954.

The children of today enjoy more freedoms than they realize and the video will show that, she said.

"We’re talking to people who are 70 and 80 years old, who were involved. We don’t know how long they’ll be here, and we want to record that," Ms. Brown said. "We don’t want to throw the past up in anyone’s face, either, but we want to show the youth of today about the privileges they have. We’re so blessed with the society we have today."

Pleasant agreed, adding that society is off to a good start with the new millennium, especially because of the young people.

"They’re really open to the idea of one race, the human race, and are willing to work together more so for that," he said. "With that impact of our young people, our future is very bright."

But it’s still important to remember who built the road to that bright future – the purpose of the Martin Luther King Day celebration, Pleasant said.

It takes a concentrated effort from everyone, and takes people willing to stand up and say enough is enough, he said.

"We raise our children to see there are differences but also to see we’re not going to tolerate this behavior, whether it’s gender or race discrimination It’s not tolerated, whether in the workplace or schools."

The Martin Luther King Day celebration march begins at the Collins Center building at OUSC. The celebration also features performances by the Ironton High School Step Team, the Catholic Community Youth Department’s singing group, singing by Susan Taylor and the Founder’s Award ceremony.