Although the City of Beaumont kicked off the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Saturday, Jan. 18, there was plenty of celebrating left to be had around Southeast Texas on the official holiday celebrating the late, great Civil Rights leader and his cause Monday, Jan. 21.
The early risers joined the NAACP Youth Council in Beaumont’s Douglas Memorial CME’s sanctuary for breakfast and fellowship starting at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 21. Judges, teachers, community leaders and dreamers of all shades and backgrounds shared an early feast of eggs, bacon, orange juice, and assorted goodies to fill out a meal fit for followers of Dr. King.
Following breakfast, guests were treated to a feast for the soul to go along with the fine culinary offerings. Guest of honor, Dr. Ray Von Robertson of Lamar University, shared a few words with those in attendance that urged those who could hear his message to “rediscover our values.” Robertson shared some appalling realities that statistically ranked homicide as the number one killer of African American men between the ages of 15 and 24; and further underlined that the chief killer of these African American young men are, in fact, other African American young men of the same age.
“We need to let them know we have their backs,” Robertson said. “They realize we’re not going to fight for them, then how can we expect them to fight to do right by us?”
Robertson urged the audience to not only heed his words, but to work to change the statistics.
“Hopefully, we can go back to our larger communities and embrace our young people and let them know we’re there for them, they are our values and our valuables.”
After breakfast, many of the 100-plus attendees at the early function traveled to Port Arthur, where the MLK Jr. Support Group of Southeast Texas held its annual celebration brunch at the Bob Bowers Civic Center starting at 10 a.m.
Guests of honor included Spirit Award honoree Dwight Wagner, Entertainment Honoree Brittani Washington, and Let Freedom Ring award recipient the Rev. Mell Williams Jr.
Also remembered at the brunch were the late Congressman Jack Brooks and Civil Rights activist and local legend MaDeline Savoy.