"Yes, the dream is still alive but make sure that you keep the dream alive in you," said evangelist Janet S. Green, guest speaker for Monday's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day program at the West End Missionary Baptist Church.
The founder and CEO of New Image Evangelistic Ministries and host of the annual Bootheel Area Interdenominational Women's Conference in Cape Girardeau, Green was born and raised in Sikeston, daughter of Bishop and Mrs. Charlie Green and Clara Pettis.
A Martin Luther King program is held each year in Sikeston to "celebrate his legacy and celebrate his life," Green said.
Green said King's story, like the stories from the Bible's Old Testament, is one she immersed herself in.
Green said we all need to think of ourselves as being part of the story to make it real.
"We see Dr. King's dream as Dr. King's Dream," she said. "We have failed to place ourselves as real characters in the dream."
Green also discussed how it is important to let the story make a change in our consciousness and character.
"When there is no change in your consciousness and character you can sell drugs in the black neighborhoods and justify it," she said.
"You must see yourself as worthy of the dream," Green said. "No one stamps you worthy or unworthy - you do that. ... See yourself as worthy of the dream and embrace the dream as your own."
Green also encouraged taking responsibility for your own life. "Stop blaming other people for your problems," she admonished.
This year's program was dedicated to Louis "L.T." Wiggins, according to Mary White-Ross, mistress of ceremonies for the program, in recognition of his 23 years of promoting and participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs.
As Wiggins was unable to attend this year's program due to health issues, his wife, Margie Wiggins, accepted presentations on his behalf.
"I can't think of anyone more vibrant than him," said City Manager Doug Friend during his presentation of a ceremonial key to the city.
He described Wiggins as "someone who always said, 'How can I help?' or 'Let me help.'"
Also during the program, the Rev. John Goodwin of the Hunter Memorial Presbyterian Church offered an opening prayer; Royleen Howard-Knox performed an impassioned reading of King's "I Have a Dream" speech that was originally delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.; and Sandra Harris Brooks presented a brief history of events related to King and the civil rights movement from slavery on up to the designation of King's birthday as a national holiday on Nov. 2, 1983.
Music during the program was provided by pianist Harry Howard and singer Leona Burkley. Refreshments provided by the Daughters of Sunset followed the service.