Speaker says Dr. King's dream being realized for many today

By Lynn R. Parks

If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were a young man living in the United States today, he might be a rap star. And if that were the case, keynote speaker Thonia Waters told the audience at Monday's M.L.K. Day of Celebration prayer breakfast, he would be the best rap star that there is and would use his fame and fortune to help others. Rap artist Jay-Z, she added, would simply have to step back.

"I say this to encourage our young people and to remind them that Dr. King was a man  a great man, but just a man," Waters said. "And to encourage them so that they may achieve their greatness and use it to help others. The heights that Martin reached through service can be reached by all of us."

Waters, 45, is the Seaford School District's teacher of the year. A native of Baltimore and a graduate of Seaford High School and the University of Delaware, she is an instructor at Frederick Douglass Elementary School.

Waters said that she hears people say that King's dream for his people to rise above poverty and racial intolerance has been realized. "They say, 'Surely we have overcome,'" she said. "Well, we haven't, I reply to all those folks. Gas prices are high and wages are low. There are many job seekers and not many jobs. One war ends and another begins. Many of us buy what we can't afford, but at least we look good while doing it. "We've got a change to make," she continued.

She encouraged adults to talk to young people. "You think that they don't want to listen, but I know 400 kids who go to Fred Douglass who would love to talk to you," she said.

She also encouraged teenagers to become mentors to children. "You could certainly be some child's hero, simply by reading to them," she said.

The prayer breakfast was held Monday, the day that the nation remembered King's birthday, in the Heritage Shore clubhouse in Bridgeville.

The M.L.K. Day of Celebration continued at Seaford High School with crafts, children's entertainment and an essay contest.

Bernice Edwards, executive director of the First State Community Action Agency, was given the annual Outstanding Community Recognition Award during the breakfast. First State Community Action manages more than 20 anti-poverty programs and has an annual budget of nearly $8.7 million.

"As I look around this room, I see such diversity and unity," Edwards told the crowd. "Truly this is the embodiment of Dr. King's dream. This must have been what he envisioned."

Like Waters, Edwards talked about King's emphasis on helping others. "I hope that, when people praise me, it's not for what I've accomplished myself, but rather for what I've done to help others," she said.

The theme of the prayer breakfast was, "From a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." "Dr. King gave so much of himself so that we could have a stone of hope," master of ceremonies Pat Jones, a member of the Seaford City Council, said.

The event featured a duet, "This Little Light of Mine," sung by 2011 Baby AFRAM Cyonna Knowles and 2011 Junior Miss AFRAM Yaleah Batts, and a performance by the dance troupe Moves of Praise. An original play, "Ode to Rosa," written by Seaford High School teacher Terrance Moore, told the story of Rosa Parks and her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus as seen through the eyes of two people who were also on the bus.

"This colored woman wouldn't move," said one of the characters, portrayed by Moore. "That was just arrogance. What good will it do?" "She paid the same for her ticket as the white people paid," said the other character, portrayed by Moore's wife, Desiree. "Why should she have to stand? When I think about it, she stood up for all of us."

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