MLK events return after Covid break

Hundreds of community members showed up to remember the legacy of America’s Dr. Martin Luther King as they awarded scholarships, taught lessons, held displays, and marched.

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 was 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 kicked things off on January 14 with proceeds going to the scholarship fund.

“The breakfast was amazing. I’ve had so many people call, text, and message me to say it was the best one ever and I am totally in agreement,” Maureen Cadogan said. “It was very, very well attended; probably one of the best we’ve had, if not the best.”

The festivities themselves went over well, according to Cadogan.

“The speaker we had, Pastor Ron Johnson from First Pres was phenomenal. Our singers and dancers were incredible and the food was great. A good time was had by all.”

According to Cadogan, thirty tables were full to celebrate over the breakfast.

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 offered two this year.

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.”

The recipients of the scholarships this year included Mona Poches and Sharon Torres.

“Oh my goodness. When the winners read their essays at the reception, it took everything to keep from crying,” Cadogan claimed. “They understood the assignment and were deserving a thousand percent.”

The events continued the following day, January 15, with the Martin Luther King Jr. Silent March. A memorial service followed. 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 also participated in the march.

“We had great numbers for the march as well,” Cadogan said. “It really went over well. Everything came over without a hitch, even with Covid causing delays for so long.”

Finally, the events will come to a close on January 16 at the 14th Street Community Center. The day consisted 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

The kids learned many different lessons, got hands on, made crafts, and more. Adults were also welcomed to join in on adult classes as well.

The day was wrapped 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