JEFFERSONVILLE — It wasn’t a march to Selma or through Montgomery, Ala., but a handful of revelers braved the cold Monday in Jeffersonville and marched from City Hall to First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church honoring the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.
For the 29th year a motorcade, march and memorial service were held Monday afternoon in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This year’s event was marked by another historic celebration. About an hour before Jeffersonville residents filled the First Trinity Baptist Church, President Barack Obama was inaugurated to serve his second term in office.
“Not only do we get to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, but we get to celebrate the legacy of President of Barack Obama,” said Renee Bains, who served as the mistress of ceremonies.
She called it “divine intervention” that the two events coincided and also referenced the upcoming 50th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963.
Before the march and the motorcade made its way to the service, Janice Leavell, an event organizer, pointed to the importance of the speech and how “all things tie back to the beginning.”
“He could have written it for 2013,” she said. “You see what a visionary he was.”
To make sure the message of King’s speech carries on, the theme of this year’s King Scholarship contest was “Have we forgotten the dream?”
Four Clark County High School students were awarded a $500 annual scholarship that recognizes the students for their community service. The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage scholastic achievement, volunteerism and compassion.
Leavell said two additional scholarships were granted, but currently funding is only available for four of the scholarships. She said if the group is able to raise the funding, they will award the two additional scholarships.
Winners honored were: Timothy Cochran, from New Washington High School, JaVaughn Hardaway and Taylor Hines, both from Jeffersonville High School and Ryan McCracken, from Charlestown High School.
The annual King Scholarship breakfast was held Saturday morning to honor the recipients. The students will receive the scholarships once they are accepted into college, Leavell said.
Hardaway not only won one of the scholarships, but she also received the Freedom and Justice Award for her service to the community.
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore read off a list of her community involvement efforts, which included assisting with the Red Rose Dance Team to ensure special needs students at Jeffersonville High School had a prom to remember; helping coordinate the senior citizens prom at Westminster Village, a retirement and assisted living facility in Clarksville; volunteering at the Polar Plunge at Deam Lake to benefit the Special Olympics; and regularly helping at the Community Kitchen and for the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter, among other volunteer commitments.
“I’m just very grateful,” she said after being named the youth award winner.
The high school senior said she wants to go to college and major in political science and work her way to becoming an attorney.
Showing the true embodiment as a King Scholarship award winner, Hardaway added, “... I just want to be able to give back to people.”
The adult winner for the Freedom and Justice Award was given to Marshall Pence, founder and director of The Barber Academy, on Spring Street in Jeffersonville. The Barber Academy is the first barber college in Southern Indiana. It allows its students — even those who have not received their high school diploma or GED — to get their barber’s license and GED at the same time through the academy.
While the service was meant to honor those who embody the ideals of King and the man himself, Moore also passed along the need to continue to promote King’s messages delivered decades ago.
“While we’ve made strides since Dr. King left us, much more remains,” Moore said. “We can honor his memory by rekindling the dream.”
He asked the audience to consider what they are doing for others and to deliver messages of hope, commitment and responsibility.
“We are responsible to promote, teach and live Dr. King’s dream for our families and our community,” he said.