Activities, awards celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The Rev. Haywood Gray charged people who attended a celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday to follow in the civil rights leader’s footsteps by going to “deep places.”
“God calls us to deep places,” Gray, executive secretary-treasurer General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, said. “If you fail to heed the call and go out into the deep, you might miss a miracle.”
Gray was the guest speaker during the 35th annual King birthday celebration held at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
He said King not only trudged to deep places, he called others to join him there.
“The purpose is to encourage the folks around us,” Gray said. “The purpose is to build bridges rather than dig ditches.
“Rather than run from deep places we ought to embrace purpose.”
The miracles found in deep places are still alive today, Gray said.
“When people who are different by race and class and culture and language and religion can find common ground where they can work together for the common good of the community, that’ s a miracle,” he said. “Those kinds of miracles happen every day, but they only happen in deep places.
“If you are afraid to go into deep places you might not only miss your miracle, you might miss your mission.”
Gray said people are bold enough to explore deep places they’ll find they are not alone.
“Fear not, the Lord is with you,” he said. “He’s with you in shallow places, he’s with you in deep places, when the road is rough and the going gets tough and the hills are hard to climb, he’s with you.”
Gray urged the audience live out their purpose by reaching out to others, even if it’s through something as simple as mentoring.
“So often God calls us to a small purpose that means so much more,” he said. “Not all of us will live our life’s greatest accomplishments out on stages, we might not ever have our name in lights and folks might not ever recognize us when we come into public places, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have purpose.”
The Rev. Nilous Avery II, pastor of Mount Zion, thanked Gray for challenging people to step outside their comfort zones to make the world a better place. He said the recipients of this year’s humanitarian award have done just that.
“They have gone to deep places,” Avery said. “They have not been afraid of the unknown.”
Corriher-Lipe Middle School’s Mix-It-Up Council received one of the humanitarian service awards.
“The purpose of the organization is to promote and celebrate diversity, multicultural awareness and tolerance within the school and community,” presenter Dixie Dalton said.
The student human relations council was created in 2004 after Principal Dr. Beverly Pugh and Karen Peck Harris, the school intervention specialist at the time, attended an all day workshop with the Salisbury Human Relations Council.
The group consists of 30 students of varying backgrounds from each grade level who promote tolerance and diversity to reduce bullying.
“I want to thank you for recognizing the commitment Corriher-Lipe Middle has made over the years to promote diversity,” Pugh said. “Our underlying belief is that we can change attitudes about differences one student at a time.”
Mae Carroll, Rodney Cress and the Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard also received humanitarian awards. See accompanying box for information about each of them.
Nathan Currie, an assistant superintendent with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, said he looks forward to this time of year to remember the historical significance King played.
During his welcome, he told a story about a student confusing King for a medical doctor after learning about him in class.
“I would dare to say that if Dr. King was in the medical field, I think that he would put a bandaid over racial segregation, I think that Dr. King would prescribe love and unity to fight off the disease of inequality, I think he would surgically remove the toxic cancer of hatred, he would provide a thorough examination over governmental injustices, I think he would take an X-ray of broken and displaced families, lately I think he would administer a charge to provide equal educational opportunities for all of our students.”
Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, told the audience of a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence that hangs in his Raleigh office.
“There’s a little quote on the bottom from Thomas Jefferson that says ‘one man with courage is a majority,’” he said. “Dr. King had courage and his courage inspired a generation of Americans to break through barriers, not just the barriers of prejudice and bigotry or closed minds and close doors, but through the barriers that held people back from being everything that God intended us to be to each other.”
Warren said King’s message still resonates today.
“It challenges us to be better than we are and bigger than we think we can be,” he said.
The program also included greetings from Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson, East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallet, Rowan County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairman Carl Ford, Livingstone College President Jimmy Jenkins and Catawba College President Joseph Oxedine.
The celebration ended with a unified singing of “We Shall Overcome.” The crowd cross arms and held hands throughout the song.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

Corriher-Lipe Middle School’s Mix-It-Up Council 
• A student human relations council that promotes diversity, multicultural awareness and tolerance within the school and community. Corriher-Lipe principal Beverly Pugh accepted the award.
Mae Carroll
• Retired from the Veteran Affairs Medical Center as a psychiatric clinical specialist with 32 years of federal service, including four years in the U.S. Air Force. She developed the first post-traumatic stress disorder outpatient clinic at the VA Medical Center and the Salisbury Transitional Outpatient program. 
Carroll was the first female commander of the J.C. Price American Legion Post 107, winning Legionnaire of the year for the state. She was the first black female to receive the honor.. 
She has fought to bring about human rights and positive relations among all people. 
Rodney Cress
• Cress is a decorated Bronze Star Vietnam Veteran of the U.S. Army, a member of American Legion Post 342, and a member of the Disabled American Veterans. 
In 2010, Cress organized a PAC (political action committee) for Rowan County veterans. 
He frequently addresses county commissioners about the need to improve services to those who have served in the armed forces. 
Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard
• Established in 1947, the Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard is comprised of a group of veterans that  voluntarily conduct military graveside rites for deceased veterans at the Salisbury National Cemetery, the National Cemetery Annex and throughout Rowan County. Commander William Craddock accepted the award.