Sampson County will once again pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King with its annual luncheon, being held Monday, Jan. 21, at the Agri-Exposition Center in Clinton.
The event begins at noon and is sponsored by the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce and its Multicultural Committee. It is open to the public and includes a luncheon.
Moving away from the traditional speakers who have been the focus of the past 12 events, this year’s celebration will center around a tribute to King in song, featuring the Clinton-Sampson Combined School youth chorus that brings students from Clinton City, Sampson County and Sampson Community College together for the program.
“Our focus will be on the youth in our community this year,” said Patty Cherry, co-chairwoman, along with Dee Bryant of the annual event. “We wanted them to take an active part in the celebration this year. We feel we must involve the upcoming generation and pass along the need to reflect and remember Dr. King and all of his accomplishments to our society.”
Cherry offered thanks to all those who have participated in the past celebrations, helping to sponsor the event and ensure it is continued each year. “Thanks to our many sponsors, we are able to offer this event each year without having to charge the public for the luncheon,” she said.
She offered special thanks to Clinton Mayor Lew Starling for his continued presence and support of the 12-year-old event, noting that he had been an “essential part” of the event every year since its inception.
The MLK luncheon is, she said, the largest event held in Clinton and Sampson County in memory of Dr. King. “We encourage the community to attend this wonderful event this year to help us celebrate Dr. King and his efforts to bring us all together, and to support the youth of our community in their efforts to pay tribute in song. We encourage individuals, businesses and churches to help us support this event each year, both by attending and providing financial support.”
As in year’s past, the event will also honor two individuals who have had a positive multi-cultural impact on the community. “Those selected demonstrate the vision of Dr. King and continue to share in his efforts of freedom and equality and help to our fellow citizens,” Cherry said, noting that she could not say who would be this year’s recipients of the honor because it is a surprise each year.”
Past recipients of the award include Dr. Ted Thomas, Jim Matthews, Bill Scott Malachi Faison, Dr. Paul Viser and state Rep. Larry Bell.
The goal of the Multi-Cultural Committee, Cherry said, is to create opportunities to assist multi-cultural businesses and entrepreneurs new to the community to become more exposed and involved in the operations of the business community in Clinton and Sampson County. “We feel this luncheon gives the public, both community members and business members, an opportunity to interact and fellowship. It also provides a chance to network and, hopefully, form relations that will assist in community cooperation and promote building a stronger relationship between all.”
Cherry said the MLK luncheon is provided each year as a continued means of promoting and bringing unity to the community and assisting, too, in the remembrance of King and his contributions to society. “We are reminding both the old and young that we did not get where we are in this race of life without forefather like Dr. King taking a stand against inequality and for justice for all. We do not want Dr. King and his efforts to get lost in the history books.”
For additional information on the event, call Cherry at 224-5347, Thomas at 990-1509, Dr. Rodney Sessoms at 596-2800 or Bryant at 260-0435.