By Wendy Holdren
Not an empty seat could be found Sunday at St. Paul Baptist Temple during the Raleigh County NAACP’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
“We are here to celebrate the life and birthday of a great man who wasn’t afraid to help people out in any way he could,” said Pastor Avaurn Staples.
“We need to be doing something every day to help other people. Brighten up your corner every day.”
She welcomed everyone to the celebration and she said she hoped everyone came with an open heart.
The Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was then sung by the congregation.
The powerful lyrics echoed through the church: “We have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last.”
The City of Beckley Fire Department Honor Guard presented the colors and St. Paul Baptist Temple Musical Department led the gathering in another musical selection.
“We are delighted to have you with us at this celebration,” Thomas Parham said, also noting the second inauguration of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama.
Parham acknowledged several people who joined the celebration Sunday, including Ron Booker, councilman of Ward V, and Elmer Day, chairman of the Human Rights Commission.
Pastor James H. Cox, president of the Raleigh County Chapter of the NAACP, was unable to attend, so Clifford Washington stepped in to appeal to everyone to join the NAACP.
“We’re the eyes. We’re the watchdogs. We come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us are little dogs with big barks and some of us are big dogs who will also bite.”
He said the NAACP tries to solve issues that affect the entire community.
“Your help is needed. There is something that everyone can do.”
He went over the membership rates, $30 per year for adults and $10 for youths, and finished by saying, “Let’s get to work, folks.”
Sermonettes were given by the Rev. Walter Leach, Elder David Moore, and Minister Damon Hamby, all reflecting the theme for the evening — “Will we, as a people, get to the Promised Land?”
St. Paul Baptist Musical Department led the congregation in a few more musical selections and the benediction was delivered by Pastor Donald Cook of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.
For anyone interested in joining the Raleigh County NAACP, meetings are at 5 p.m. every second Saturday at Central Baptist Church.
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