King’s birthday celebrated in song, reflection

January 13, 2013
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
Robert Griffin, president of the NAACP branch in Washington, center, is flanked at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in the city by James Lindsey, deacon of Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Canonsburg, and Carolyn Dunklin, who opened the program at St. Paul AME Church. Order a Print
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Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter
The Rev. Richard White of Friendship Baptist Church of Washington offers reflections on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a service Sunday marking the slain civil rights leader’s birthday. Order a Print

James Lindsey said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech has often caused him to wonder how many of the slain civil right leader’s dreams actually came true.

Lindsey, a deacon at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Canonsburg, said white children refused to dance with black children during games at school, he wasn’t permitted to patronize a Canonsburg hot dog stand while growing up there and blacks were not allowed in the local swimming pool “as if our black was going to rub off” on white people.

Without the work and sacrifices of King, he said, black people would not be where they are today.

“You can be a black person, and you can be whatever you want to be,” Lindsey said at a birthday celebration for King Sunday at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington. “In fact, you can become president.”

More than 150 people crowded the sanctuary at the church at 16 Ridge Ave., where choirs performed and area church officials offered reflections about King as the nation is about to honor him through a federal holiday Jan. 21.

Phyllis Waller of Washington, first vice president of the Washington NAACP branch, said King was stabbed once and jailed multiple times during his crusade for equal rights before he was assassinated in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., at age 39.

King’s life was “filled with many trials and tribulations,” said Treg Campbell, a teacher at Washington High School. He said King stressed that intelligence is not enough, that an educated person must also have strong morals and a good character.

Jeanie Waters of Washington, a trustee at St. Paul AME, said it’s important to keep celebrating King’s birthday to make sure the struggles for equal rights are not forgotten.

“There is still a long way to go,” Waters said. “Prejudice still exists.”

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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