LIMA — Hundreds of residents and community leaders gathered Monday at the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center to commemorate the life and work of a slain civil rights leaders at the 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast.
The breakfast has been organized since its inception by the Sigma Mu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which also used the occasion to collect hats, scarves and gloves for Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs.
“All of our chapters across the nation have taken Dr. King’s day as a day of service,” chapter president Andrea King said. “That is what Dr. King’s dream was, to serve. It is a day that we’re not to sit, but be active.”
The Rev. Michael Lyons, of In Faith Ministries, served as the keynote speaker. He hoped to help those in attendance honor all those who worked for racial equality in the past while challenging future generations to be agents of change.
“Today is a day when we certainly acknowledge all the hard work that’s gone before us and the man who was used very significantly to bring about the state where we are today,” he said. “We have to continue to dream bigger than what we’re seeing.”
Speaking at the breakfast, Mayor David Berger took a poll of how many people were alive when King was working for racial equality, urging them to pass those memories and experiences to those coming up.
“Many in the room have very personal memories of [King], and therefore have the opportunity to share with the next generation in a very meaningful way,” he said. “They need to hear from us and not just from history books.”
Seeing a great deal of diversity in the crowd, Berger hoped that the same unity felt during the breakfast can grow in the rest of the community.
“I don’t think we can ever take for granted the need for working at building relationships, whether it’s police and community relationships or just generally,” he said, “Knowing the differences, valuing the differences and working at understanding each other is something that requires energy and deliberate thought.”
Monday’s observances also included a march from the intersection of Reese and Holmes avenues to the Cheryl Allen Center, where a commemorative dinner and celebration was held. Sixth Ward Lima City Councilman Derry Glenn hoped to see the spirit of the march and the rest of the community’s celebration of King’s work continue after the holiday.
“We want our city to be unified, and not just this day,” he said. “We’ll continue to do this, building a bridge and coming together, planting a seed for our young folks to know right from wrong.”
Cheryl Allen director Vickie Shurelds hopes that honoring King will spur everyone in Lima to take positive steps to fostering community harmony.
“None of those dreams are going to come true unless we do something,” she said. “It is up to each one of us individually to be conscientious of what we are doing each day to bring us closer to the Lima we want to live in.”