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Camden remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted: January 21, 2014 4:24 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Gary Phillips/C-I

Sammy Dennis (center) led the MLK Community Choir in performing several spiritual songs during a King Day program at Camden First United Methodist Church.

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Dozens of people packed the sanctuary of Camden First United Methodist Church to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, the official holiday observed for the slain civil rights leader. The Camden-Kershaw County branch of the NAACP sponsored the event.

Rev. Marion O. Bennett of the Concerned Clergy of Kershaw County welcomed the audience and explained his organization’s purpose.

“Our theme is to foster unity that will enhance our ministries to address spiritual and social issues and to speak as a collective voice for the concerns of the African-American community,” he said.

Thomas Moser, assistant youth director for the NAACP said he didn’t know much as a child about King but that his curiosity grew through the years.

“As I got older, I began to educate myself on things that were going on in the world and our black leaders. I wanted to know more and yearned for more knowledge about our black leaders,” he said. “Dr. Martin Luther King was a great man. He was many things. He had no fear. He had lots of courage. He stood for greatness. I just want to thank God for that man.”

Following a spiritual musical selection by the MLK Community Choir, led by Sammy Dennis, NAACP First Vice President and Kershaw County Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. welcomed special guests in the audience and asked military veterans to stand to be recognized. Mrs. Ollie Thompson Brisban introduced the featured speaker, Dr. Liz Zimmerman Kitt of Orangeburg.

“We have been blessed with an awesome speaker for our King Day celebration,” Brisban said. “Dr. Kitt wears many hats. She’s an educator. She’s an entrepreneur. She’s a politician. She’s a community activist. She also is a Christian. She is so involved in doing great things, it is hard to believe she finds time to sleep.”

Kitt said she knew King and participated in several of his marches in the 1960s.

“I marched everywhere I could go,” she said. “I was there to march with Martin because he was such a dynamic person. It is significant that we come here to acknowledge one who constantly affirmed he was somebody in the presence of God and man.”

Kitt said King stood for equality for all people.

“He was not just for black people, but for all who were downtrodden, disenfranchised and disillusioned,” Kitt said.

She urged African-Americans to better themselves.

“We are our worst enemy, so it seems. We victimize one another. We rob one another and we even murder on another. Our young people are caught in a vicious cycle of drugs, teen pregnancy, high unemployment, high dropout rates and we have to stop blaming other folks for all our problems and rally our collective forces to move forward,” Kitt said. “We must keep telling our young men that underpants are to be worn underneath and not to be seen in public. I’ll stop in the middle of the street to tell these young people to pull their pants up.”

Kitt urged everyone to register to vote, then use that right on election day.

“There are so many areas where one vote makes a difference. Please, go to the polls and vote,” she said.

Kitt concluded her talk by urging everyone to maintain faith in God.

“The same God that is able to change us from nature unto grace is still working to transform our dark yesterdays into brighter tomorrows,” she said.

Linda Sutton Dutton urged everyone to become members of the NAACP and Evangelist Rosalind Watson encouraged voter registration. Camden-Kershaw NAACP Pres. Rev. William B. Gaither recognized board members and other dignitaries and the audience sang “We Shall Overcome” before Rev. Ellis White, pastor of Camden First United Methodist Church offered the benediction and the program concluded.


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