Hillary Hess planned to sleep in on the morning of the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, instead she found herself waking up just in time to throw on a pair of jeans, a shirt and a toboggan.
Hess, a freshman from Sea Girt, N.J., made her way to Van Meter Auditorium by 11 a.m., to see the Warren Central High School band play their first note to begin the occasion.
Hess said the entire program moved her. She was relieved that she dragged herself out of bed in order to attend.
“I felt that we were all united together with no barriers between color or race or beliefs,” she said.
Race, color and beliefs were all left outside Van Meter’s doors so all could rejoice in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration sponsored by the MLK Committee and Western.
The bottom floor of the auditorium was filled with people — diversity could be seen throughout the room.
Voices filled the room with harmonious chords as the Bowling Green High School African American Choir sang a gospel musical selection and Western’s Amazing Tones of Joy performed. Each gospel song reflected the beliefs of King and allowed the audience to feel his spirit while every song surged throughout the room.
A cultural dance team from Nashville, The Village, performed African music and dance.
The audience clapped, stomped their feet and rose out of their seats as they listened to each act.
Keynote speaker Reverend Jamal-Harrison Bryant described Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a day of remembrance, a day where a dream was made.
He said this is not a day to sleep in, go to the movies, drive to the mall or play a few games on X-Box. This is a day to celebrate the remembrance of a great man.
Bryant said what he found wrong with the world today was that people are too concerned with materialism and not concerned enough on following their own dreams.
“We always make sure the hair’s done, but there’s nothing in the head,” he said. “Somebody may have a gold-plated tooth, but have a nickel-plated brain. I know if I can’t buy anything I have my brain and my freedom bought for by somebody else.”
Bryant spoke with emotion to help the audience realize what this day of honor and recognition is truly about.
Race didn’t matter as members of the audience left the auditorium — hugs were shared and hands of all colors were shaken.
“It was really special, I felt like I was really taking a part of something with true importance,” said Louisville senior Kelly Dalton, an Amazing Tones of Joy choir member. “It felt good to represent my generation on a day like this.”
Students seemed to represent each other on this special occasion, from the choir members to the bands.
“This day allows me to realize that the fight for America to truly be America is still alive, but with all that has been done, so much more still needs to be done,” Bryant said.
He shared that even though he was born after the death of King he was still extremely inspired by him, leading him to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta.
“I soon became interested in the civil rights movement before college and that is where I found out that Dr. King is alive in me as well as others.”
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