LIMA — About 75 locals gathered at Lima Towers on Sunday afternoon to remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hopeful equality message, and for locals continuing his work he could only dream about to be recognized.
“We’re keeping his legacy going,” said Lima Councilman Derry Glenn, who organized the banquet. “The folks that we gave the awards to are doing an outstanding job in our community.”
Among those awarded was Jean Foy, for the variety of work she’s done in Lima through the years, particularly with her ministry work in the community and the black history program she’s organized for many years. She said it’s important to remember King because his words are more relevant than ever.
“We should be thinking of the things he taught us,” she said, especially with civil disobedience. “Never think you should end everything with violence. Learn all you can learn. Be all you can be.
“We’re living in the freedom that he desired for us, when he spoke about us coming together, being one people. Not being judged by the color of your skin, but by your character.”
Former state Rep. Ben Rose was keynote speaker of the event.
“I think one of the things that makes me optimistic about our ability to improve racial justice in America is the fact that I have seen people change. People are capable of changing,” Rose said.
His 30-minute speech highlighted many different people who made an impact in improving race equality, like former Lima City Schools Superintendent Earl McGovern, federal Judge Robert Duncan, poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, among others he mentioned.
Kesha James came with her three children and niece because she said it’s important for King’s message to continue on for future generations.
“I want my kids to appreciate and understand what someone else has fought for that they have,” said James, 34.
Her daughters Nakiya, 12, Jakyra, 9, her son Kylon, 8, and her niece Tessy, 12, sat beside her, listening. Like Rose, she’s also optimistic for the future for things to continually improve within the community and with race relations.
“With God’s help, I think things will get better,” she said. “As a black community, we have taken steps backwards ... not just violence, but our standards, our morals, education. There’s always room for improvement.”