East Spencer folks march to honor King

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
EAST SPENCER — Dozens of people marched down Long Street on Saturday afternoon carrying soulful tunes and American flags.
It was the first time in the town’s history a group has marched in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But the event was more than a commemoration of the famed civil rights leader. It was also a symbol of a fresh start for the town.
“This, of course, is Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and he talked about joining forces to do things for ourselves. So our theme this year is, ‘Let’s get connected,’ ” Mayor Barbara Mallett said. “We want to connect so our citizens will know if we join together and work we can make some positive things happen for the town of East Spencer.”
Mallett, who was elected in November, told the Post that her top priorities would be to encourage community development and improve the town’s image.
The marchers walked 1.4 miles from Southern City Tabernacle AME Zion Church parking lot at Robin Circle to the Northside Economic Development Center on North Long Street.
At the end of the march, the Rev. George Jackson spoke during a commemorative program.
And Mallett encouraged participants to sign up for slots on town committees.
“Nothing happens unless we all work together,” she said. “It’s not Barbara, it’s not the Board of Alderman, it’s not the town administrator, it’s not police, it’s not fire, it’s all of us. And if we come together with a positive vision we can make some things happen.”
Mallett also asked people to jot down five things they want to see happen in the town throughout the year.
“When we do this again next year, we can see how far we’ve come,” she said.
The idea to host the march came from Jackson, Mallett said. But she’s hoping to make it an annual event.
“I want to bring people together, walk the streets and proclaim some goodness,” Mallett said.
Town alderman Theodore Gladden said he’s happy the march will kick off a new direction for the town.
“We are doing some things differently and hopefully the things we are doing are very positive,” he said. “This is just another way of reaching out and being more hands-on with the community.
“It’s a good thing, we’re moving forward.”
East Spencer native Joanne Cunningham said there’s a “great need” to pull the community together.
“I think this is a good way to do that,” she said.
The Rev. Thomas Lee, pastor of Southern City Tabernacle AME Zion Church, said he was proud to be part of an event that keeps King’s beliefs alive.
“It’s a great day, a time of celebration and commemoration and rededication to the work and the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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