While confusion reigned in neighboring Garrard County as officials cancelled then rescheduled their Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, the annual Lincoln County event went off without a hitch and was well attended despite the cold, rainy weather that attended Monday’s events. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as the courthouse clock tolled noon and next door, the carillon in the Stanford Christian Church rang with Amazing Grace as around 70 attendees assembled on the courthouse steps.
After singing a rousing rendition of We’ve Come A Long Way, the crowd heard scripture read by Rev. Floyd Raglin and an invocation by Rev. David Gambrel before beginning their march down Main Street to the First Missionary Baptist Church.Gambrel’s prayer was particularly inspiring, saying, “I pray that the dream of Martin Luther King does not die with this generation and our nation’s leaders will continue that vision (and) I pray that our words and actions today will comfort the afflicted and affect the comfortable.”
After assembling on Main Street, marchers singing We Will Overcome and led by flag and sign-bearing youths, headed west lead by a Stanford police cruiser. Whether affected by the cold or just inspiration, the children set a brisk pace that had a few of the more seasoned attendees struggling to keep up as the crowd headed for a ceremony on Martin Luther King Street.
The First Missionary Baptist Church was packed with Lincoln Countians who began the service with the traditional Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. Vickie Chambers invited Gambrel to do a reading for which he was not prepared, who instead spoke extemporaneously on the universality of King’s cause. “Don’t talk about Martin Luther King from a black perspective…this day is not about African-Americans it is about America,” he said. Gambrel told the crowd that racism, poverty and ill-education are not colorblind.
Stanford Police Sergeant T. J. Hill introduced the local officials present, many of whom chose to speak including Stanford City Councilman Eddie Carter and Judge Executive Jim Adams. Hill’s sister, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Carol Hill, tearfully spoke of returning from a recent trip abroad and the pride she felt when she returned home and showed her passport saying she was an American. Sgt. Hill, wiping his eyes jibed, “It isn’t a ceremony unless the Hill’s cry.”
The ceremony continued with more readings, song and a keynote speech by Interior Journal Columnist Sara Givens, and concluded with a benediction by Elder Robert Coulter, Jr.