Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to be smiling Monday as he watched and listened from above as the Distinct Voices of Praise once again lifted their voices and melted hearts during Sampson’s annual MLK business reception.
No one has to wonder any longer who will lead Sampson and, really, the nation, into tomorrow after watching and listening to this group of talented youth, ranging in age from 9 to 25, perform on the Agri-Exposition Center stage, their faith evident as their faces lit up even as their voices sang praise.
The group made their debut as the MLK Youth Choir at least year’s King reception, wowing the crowd with their heartfelt songs. A year later, with a new name and a commitment to carry their songs and their faith throughout Sampson and beyond, the young people made a lasting impression, reminding us all that it truly does only take a spark to set off a raging fire.
That spark was lighted during last year’s event, and with the help of strong community leaders like Dee Bryant, Dr. Rodney Sessoms and Patty Cherry, among others, the young people in that choir have been nurtured, the end result of which is a well-rounded choir who practices together, supports one another and works together to do the best they can for their community and the Lord.
The commitment to the choir, and from the choir, is a testament to what can be done when people get involved, play active roles in the lives of young people and help them find constructive ways to spend their time.
The Multi-Cultural Business Committee is to be commended for coming up with a new, energetic way to celebrate Dr. King, one that, as co-chairwoman Dee Bryant so aptly noted, was really about passing the baton to the next generation and allowing them to not only live the dream King talked and worked so diligently for during his life but to be the action behind the words that will keep moving us forward year after year.
During interviews with members of the youth choir last year and again in conversations this year, it became even more apparent that the young people of tomorrow aren’t just ready to put race behind them, they have already done so.
To a person, the young people interviewed last year talked about unity in terms of the actions already taken and spoke volumes about the part they can play in moving Sampson County, the state and the nation forward in the years to come.
All talked openly and passionately about their faith and their desire to love people, no matter their race, and to work to lift people up rather than tear them down. Powerful words from those so young, but just the right melody to carry us forward.
As one looked around the Agri-Exposition Center Monday, there was a mixture of white and African-American, young and old, leaders of our community and legions of citizens, all standing elbow to elbow as they sang the Negro National Anthem and then rose to their feet over and over to offer their support and their praise to the young people leading the event.
As different as each of us are, in that room, in those moments, everyone in attendance was in one accord, their hearts open as the youth choir offered a moving reminder of the possibilities in our midst.
We applaud the Multi-Cultural Business Committee for their continued efforts to celebrate Dr. King, but our greatest praise today goes to the young people who restored, once again, our faith in future generations and how they will recall Dr. King’s in years to come as their reality.