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Fit for a King: Gwinnett residents share in celebrating MLK Day

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Brothers Kenneth, 17, and Kendall Coleman, 15, were near the front of the lineup of marchers Monday carrying together a poster bearing a hand-painted likeness of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

That poster, and another bearing the face of King's late wife, Coretta Scott King, has been a fixture at the annual King Day Celebration march for the past four years and was created by the county Boys & Girls Club's art department.

Kenneth and Kendall, both students at Central Gwinnett High School, joined about 70 other members of the Boys & Girls Club making their way down Pike Street and onto Crogan on the way to their school, where the celebration of the life and legacy of King continued.

"Today is a great day for us to all come together and join as one," Kendall said as he and his brother held the poster aloft.

"It means that we can celebrate equal opportunity for everybody and celebrate the legacy of a great man," Kenneth added.

The 10th annual King Day Celebration was sponsored by the United Ebony Society of Gwinnett County in conjunction with the Gwinnett County Human Relations Commission.

Monday morning's march to Central Gwinnett culminated in a program inside the gymnasium featuring guest speaker state Sen. Donzella James, who shared her own memories of meeting King as a child.

Monday's program was sprinkled with performances by the Gwinnett Choral Guild, Central Gwinnett's step team and the Norton Dazzlers dance team from Norton Elementary School. Local schoolchildren read essays they had written for the King Day Celebration.

Rory Johnson, senior executive director of the Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club, said getting more youth involved in the annual event is "what it's all about.

"The dream has now become a vision and now the vision has now become a reality," he said. "The only way it's going to continue is if we keep letting our young people know and they keep passing it on. And that's a blessing. This day is a blessing."

Joseph McCarty, president of the United Ebony Society and a member of the Human Relations Commission, estimated attendance at this year's event, bolstered by nice weather, in the thousands.

"This has allowed the individuals of this community to say, 'There was a celebration of a man that was so great, well what can I do? What can I do to serve? How can I inspire someone to serve, and how can they be a benefactor of my serving?'" he said.

Lois Solomon, who organized this year's event, hoped attendees took with them a sense of hope.

"To know that there is a better tomorrow," she said. "Like Dr. King's dream ..."