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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Segregation generation keeps King's dream alive

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Louis Wiggins places a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his car's antenna Monday morning before the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration and Motorcade in Sikeston.
SIKESTON - Bundled up on a cold Monday morning outside the West End Missionary Baptist Church, 7-year-old Geneitrious White stood among a crowd of people, waiting to participate in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration and Motorcade.

"I know that he got killed," White said. "And when he was living, all white people had to go to one school and all the black people had to go to another school. Dr. King helped change that."

Today, many people are concerned that young people do not know who King was or what he did because he was killed almost 34 years ago. They're afraid King and his work won't be remembered by future generations.

Louis Wiggins, coordinator of the annual motorcade, said young people are in the age of integration and can't possibly grasp what segregation was like.

Maybe young people today can't fully understand what it was like back then, but it is possible for them to learn from those who were there and are older.

White, a first grader at Matthews Elementary, said she learned about King from her parents and from teachers in school. "We learn about what not to do and what to do. We learned what Dr. King was doing and what he was wishing for. We need to keep doing what he was wishing for," she said.

Among King's wishes were racial justice and equality. Coretta Scott King, King's widow, said in a statement made on "The King Center" Web site that her husband was not only a leader who dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also led a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.

Mary White-Ross said it's very important for kids to come to the celebration. "That's why children get out of school," she said, "so they can come and celebrate. Instead of sitting at home watching TV, they should come out and hear the speakers."

White-Ross said that she recommends children and even adults who don't know much about King visit their local library or search the Internet to learn more about King.

Informative King web sites include http://thekingcenter.com, http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org. and http://www.stanford.edu/group/King.

In 1983, Congress passed a bill that made the third Monday in January, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, however, the bill wasn't enacted until 1986.

King's widow also said in the statement that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all, a day of service.

Gathering for the annual motorcade began at 10:30 a.m. and the motorcade left at 11 a.m. A public reception service following the motorcade took place at West End Missionary Baptist Church.

Harry Howard and Company of Smith Chapel provided music selections for the celebration, and the Rev. Major Lucious, pastor of the St. John Missionary Church was this year's presenter.

Margaret Wiggins said she believes since the Sept. 11 attacks, people of all races have become closer. She said that everyone is realizing that they are all the same. Everyone is an American, she said.

Those who participate get up early in the morning and prepare for the event, but, she said, it's worth it. Each year when she leaves the celebration, Wiggins said, she just feels exuberant and touched with a caring sensation.

"At the end of the day," Wiggins said, "it feels good to have paid our dues to someone who paid his dues for us a long time ago."