MLK Committee plans meaningful events

Not many individuals leave behind the lasting legacy by 39 years of age like that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The living legend made a huge impact on human rights in America and the local Martin Luther King (MLK) Scholarship Committee is ready to show, once again, that they’re about more than scholarships, with three days of events planned to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.

The 31st Annual MLK Jr. Breakfast will kick things off on January 14 at 9 a.m. Admission to the breakfast is $15 and proceeds go to the scholarship fund. This year, the event will be held at Christ Community Church, 2433 25th Street, Portsmouth.

Maureen Cadogan has been with the group since the start and has been the chairperson for around a decade. Prior to Cadogan, the events were managed by Genetta Moore, who was chairperson and founder.

“Even on her death bed, she called to me and told me, ‘You take this now and don’t you let it down.’ I said, ‘yes ma’am,’ and it means a lot knowing how much this has meant to even generations before me,” Cadogan explained.

Cadogan has been leading the group since.

“I look forward to the events every year,” Cadogan said. “I like the opportunity to be a blessing for students who need support in our community who may not have the opportunity to further their education. It is not a million dollars, but it is enough to pay for some books and things like that. We want to invest in our youth, so serving on this committee is a privilege and an honor.”

Typically, the group awards four $2,000 scholarships each year. After a continued impact from Covid, they’re offering two this year.

Pre-covid numbers had 275 guests attending the breakfast.

“It had really grown, but a lot of people still really look forward to it,” Cadogan explained. “It may not be steak and caviar, but people understand that and know what it is about. It’s a special thing.”

The breakfast consists of egg strata provided by the Portsmouth Area Ladies, sausage, and other sides. A lot of the overhead is managed by Valley Wholesale Foods and other members of the community.

“It is a wonderful time for fellowship with some people you may not hardly see throughout the year,” Cadogan said.

This is the only fundraiser for the scholarship and Cadogan says that it is very important.

“We have to hit our mark or it impacts what we are able to do. So, we work hard,” Cadogan said. “Our committee works feverishly to make sure everything gets done and we get the money we need.”

Christ Community Church (CCC) is a new partner for the event. Previously, the breakfast was held at the former SOMC Friends Center, before being closed by the hospital. Cadogan said the partnership at CCC has been instrumental and a wonderful opportunity.

“The church has been amazing. They’ve told us they’ll do anything we need to make this happen We just appreciate their hospitality,” Cadogan said. “It is a blessing.”

Winners of the scholarship will be announced at the breakfast.

The events continue the following day, January 15, with the Martin Luther King Jr. Silent March. Participants are requested to assemble at 2 p.m. at the Shawnee State University parking lot, 940 Second Street. The march begins at 2:30 p.m. The march ends at Beulah Baptist, 1226 14th Street. A memorial service will follow. This event has been a tradition for even longer than the MLK scholarship and breakfast.

“We just want to march in solidarity and we want to generate concern and raise awareness, especially in our youth, of the importance of nonviolent protest and that we’re a nonviolent movement,” Cadogan said. “It is to give them a sense of participation.”

Scholarship recipients will be participating in the march.

According to Cadogan, the event will be rain or shine.

“Almost every year, over the past few years, we’ve had winter storms and emergencies and we still went out to share our blessings,” Cadogan recalled. “Genetta Moore, who was the first chairwoman of the board, would always say ‘Honey, we’re going to have it anyway ‘cause a little rain or little snow never stopped Martin.’”

Finally, the events will come to a close on January 16 at the 14th Street Community Center, 1222 14th Street, Portsmouth. The day consists of workshops between 10 a.m. and noon, a winter picnic between noon and 1 p.m., and a performing arts program at 7 p.m.

The workshops are broken down by age and have different crafts and lessons for youth of different ages.

“We want to let them know about nonviolence. We see so much going on and divisiveness and division these days. We just want to stress peace and the principles and foundations Dr. King stood upon,” Cadogan said. “We want them to know that they can make a difference. Just like how he had a dream, they can have a dream. Each one can make a difference, and everyone can serve. We want them to know that how they serve really counts. If you can touch somebody or bless somebody that you pass, then it was not done in vain. Make a difference, don’t just sit idly by. You could be that one who changes the world.”

The kids will learn many different lessons, get hands on, make crafts, and more. Adults will also be welcomed to join in on adult classes as well.

Following the workshops, a picnic will be held at the 14th Street Community Center. Food will consist of hot dogs, chips, and drinks.

The day is wrapped up by the performing arts program, organized by the committee and Maxine Malone.

Cadogan is not alone in her efforts. The MLK Committee also consists of Anna Davis as co-chairperson, Christine Cave as secretary, Mary Sanford as treasurer, Anthony Cadogan, Carlton Cave, Ester Dickerson, Marilyn Hairston, Doris Johnson, Arthur Lard, Jan Smith, and Gerald Cadogan.

All of them champion the messages of Dr. King and work tirelessly to share his legacy through service of others.

“Dr. King’s legacy just lets me know I have work to do. We shouldn’t sit idly by. It is up to us to teach our youth that everybody can change the world in some fashion. We should always leave this place a better world than it was when we inherited it,” Cadogan said. “I feel blessed and honored to have this position and I have the best committee in the world.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved