Pastor Herman Washington of the wanted to make sure that when speaking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the assembled members at Monday’s Annual Martin Luther King Celebration addressed him by his full title.
“Before the public even knew him as Dr. King, those of us who were Baptist and black knew him as Reverend,” Washington said as he preached to a standing room only crowd at the . “It’s that part of his life that is the lesson that I want my children to really get a hold of because it is by faith that we are able to face the opposition and obstacles in life.”
Washington’s spirited address punctuated an afternoon filled with community pride and reflection. The center inducted nine community members onto its Wall of Fame. Started last year by MLK Center Director Patrick Morris, the wall recognizes longtime members of the community who have made a difference during their time in Rockville Centre.
“It’s to pay tribute to the ones who paved the way and were positive role models to the community, so when the kids come in here they understand that there’s a history (in this community),” Morris said of the reasons behind creating the wall.
The 2012 class was determined by a combination of internet and paper ballot votes. This practice will continue for years to come, according to Morris.
This year’s inductees included Bessie Robinson (deceased), Julia Mae Bush (deceased), Henry Dorsey, Eugene “Hip” Munlin, Sylvester Bush, Former Rockville Centre Mayor Eugene Murray, Lenora Quinones, Cleveland Mitchell, and Mary Mitchell.
Dorsey, a former Rockville Centre Highway Department employee, said fondly remembered seeing Dr. King Jr. when he visited Rockville Centre during one of his visits to Long Island in the 1960’s.
“They brought him down to the neighborhood so he could see where the people were living,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey said he has a picture of King on the corner of Banks and Randall Avenue.
The ceremony highlighted community members of every age. From the Girl Scouts of Troop 870, to poems read by members of the xenter’s teen group, to the honorees, the theme of remembrance was hardly an undertone.
“I remember the hope we had because of his speech and how he was (speaking),” Azoth Evans, a deacon at Shiloh Baptist Church, said.
Evans was in his thirties during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement.
“The sad part about it is, so much has been forgotten,” he said. “The young people coming up now don’t realize the struggle that went on…He stood for something. We, in turn, must stand for what he stood for.”