Locals celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Operation: Be Proud’s 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Operation: Be Proud’s 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration began with silence.

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While those who were able to do so marched silently in remembrance, others sat silently in the Bowman Auditorium of Ohio State University Southern campus and listened to a taped sermon delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"This is not something we take lightly," said Robert Pleasant Jr., founder of Operation: Be Proud. "We need to focus on where we’ve come from and where we’re at."

Congressman Ted Strickland spoke on the celebration’s theme, "A New Day . . . A New Year . . . and the Dream Lives On. . . "

"We are in an educational institution that invites children of all races to come and study," Strickland said. "But not so long ago we lived in a time where young boys and girls couldn’t chose their education because of their race.

"Not so long ago we lived in a time when soldiers were sent to institutes of higher learning so that children of all races could attend."

Congressman Strickland said that he thought Dr. King would be pleased to see so many people gathered together to celebrate diversity.

Pleasant said that the program celebrated Dr. King’s spirit by reflecting the participants diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, along with their genders. The participants included members of Operation: Be Proud, Boy Scout Troop 106 of Ironton, students of Ironton Junior High, The Ironton High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes, New Jerusalem Christian Center, St. Lawrence O’ Toole Church, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Sharon Baptist Church and the Voices of Faith singing group.

Near the end of the program, Pleasant reflected on Operation: Be Proud’s 10th year.

"I think about sitting on my parents’ living room floor…," Pleasant said, "Now we have a city building and a staff. I’d never have dreamt it."

Pleasant said that he thought the celebration was successful.

"It turned out so wonderful, I’m so excited about it. "