During the King Day March for Nonviolence, more than 100 people walked the streets of downtown Jasper, many holding signs quoting King or calling for peace and equality. The marchers paused for a few moments at the Walker County Courthouse to sing songs and pray.
“We are here to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said the Rev. Donald Bobbitt of New Hope Baptist Church in Carbon Hill. “We want to continue his efforts for peace, justice and equality for all men.”
The march concluded at the Percy L. Goode Community Center, where as many as 200 people attended a ceremony dedicated to King’s life.
The theme of Monday’s ceremony was “Dream with a Vision — Live with a Purpose.”
The event opened with a presentation of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by local minister Al’Shiki Tucker.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Tucker said in his best impersonation of King.
Steven Turner, a local minister, shared Psalm 133, which opens with “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
While speaking at the ceremony, Jeraldine Williams-Woodberry said King stood for the love taught by Jesus Christ.
“Martin Luther King stood for love just as Jesus did,” she said. “Let us all remember Jesus gives love. Let us continue to love one another regardless of who someone is and what they look like. Love is Jesus, and Jesus is love.”
Steven Yarbrough, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Parrish, served as the featured speaker during the ceremony.
Yarbrough, who is also a deputy with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, spoke of King’s nonviolent nature.
“Even our own people did not understand his nonviolent approach,” Yarbrough said. “Some militant groups attacked him because they had a lack of patience. They said ‘an eye for an eye,’ but we’re supposed to love our neighbors; pray for those who despitefully use you; love your enemies.”
Yarbrough said the world has changed since King’s “Dream” speech.
“In this ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, we notice Dr. King says we were people exiled in our own land,” Yarbrough said. “We are no longer a people exiled in our own land. In fact, today was the second inauguration of an Afro-American president. The real question is, ‘Where do we go from here?’
“We used to be standing in the quicksand of racial injustice,” Yarbrough continued. “It is safe to say we have now climbed upon the solid rock of brotherhood.”
In a challenge to those at the ceremony, Yarbrough ended his speech by quoting T.S. Eliot.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.”