A time to reflect on King's message in today's world

By Ronald MacArthur

Hundreds gathered in Seaford on Monday to celebrate the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. The 2006 Western Sussex MLK Day of Celebration started with a revival-like prayer breakfast at the Seaford Golf & Country Club and ended with a youth dance after an afternoon of activities at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club. During the three-hour prayer breakfast, poems were read, songs were sung and the highlight of the event was the presentation of the 2006 MLK Community Recognition Award to Pastor Carlton L. Cannon Sr. of the Clarence Street Church of God in Seaford. Cannon, who started his 47-year long career in ministry at the church when he was 15, has recently returned to be pastor at his home church. He has ministered throughout the world and is a retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps (he was wounded) as well as a retired DelDOT superintendent. He is also chaplain for the Purple Heart Association in Delaware. He is married to Lettie Marie (Banks) and the couple has three adult children. He was presented with the award by Adair Williams and Kimberly Jones, chairmen of the event. During the presentation, he took time to introduce several members of his family in the audience. "I do appreciate this honor, but it's really a family thing," he said. After accepting the award, he spoke about the work that needs to be done. "I think it takes a community to raise the nation and takes the church to raise the community. It takes all of us working together. It's celebrations like these that help to bring us together," he said. He was presented with tributes from the Delaware House of Representatives from Rep. Tina Fallon and from the city of Seaford by Mayor Dan Short. "This man has a vision for this community and he has a vision for his church. He has a major commitment toward this city," the mayor said. He was also presented with a glass cross from his church. David Baylor, a retired Delaware State Police major, was the featured speaker during the prayer breakfast. He was the first African American to reach the rank of major in the Delaware State Police.

He asked the audience to reflect on what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would think about the advancement of civil rights today. "If we could sit down and talk today, I think he would be pleased and surprised with the progress," Baylor said. "I really think he would be proud how far we've come in civil rights in this country. But we still have a lot of work in front of us," he added. He said that a lot of the work needs to start with the youth. "We need to teach them to put down the guns and pick up the books and pens and educate themselves," he said. "We need education to fight injustice and we know that knowledge is power and the more we have the more powerful we will be." He said that we should be concerned when more is spent on incarceration than education. "Using drugs, guns and violence to settle things is not the Dr. King way - that is the message we need to get across," he said. During the prayer breakfast, Christel Matthews performed two songs, Rosetta Garfield read the poem "The Creation," the Good News Tour performed, the invocation was given by Terence Moore and Betty Ricks-Jarman introduced the keynote speaker. Terence and Desi Moore along with Adair Williams and Chandra Phillips performed a skit, "Ode to Rosa," and Bryan Nixon closed out the prayer breakfast by reading Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Also making an appearance were Nadia Smith, 2005 Little Miss AFRAM, Myleah Lofland, 2005 Little Miss Jr. AFRAM, Tyrone Jenkins, 2005 Little Mr. AFRAM, and Ryan Ricketts, 2005 Little Mr. Jr. AFRAM. Pat Jones was mistress of ceremonies and the introduction was done by Adair Williams, one of the chairman of the event.

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