LIMA — Keeping the dream of racial justice and equality alive, that is the driving force behind the annual celebration in Lima to remember slain civil right leader Martin Luther King Jr.
More than two dozen participants took part Monday in the 12th annual MLK “March for the Dream” walk down Reese Avenue from Holmes Avenue to the city park that bears King’s name.
“Whether there are three people who show up for the walk or 100, we’ll continue to do this as long as long as I’m in Lima,” said event organizer Derry Glenn, Lima’s 6th Ward councilman.
“This walk is very important. When you walk you reflect about how Martin Luther King struggled. These are the things we can remember. We plan to have a peaceful march to show Lima we’re all together here.”
Monday was a day set aside nationally to honor King, a Baptist minister and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King led the civil rights movement in America through impassioned speeches and nonviolent protests to fight segregation and achieve significant civil rights advances for African Americans.
He was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
King helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.
It’s also an opportunity to recognize good being done in minority communities.
For some 40-plus years, Glenn has recognized members of the community through the presentation of Dream Awards. The celebration is normally held at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center, but due to social distancing mandates a smaller event was held Monday at The 318 restaurant in downtown Lima.
“Each year, we work to expose people for the heroes they really are,” Glenn said.
Six such heroes were recognized this year during ceremonies held prior to the MLK walk. Second Ward City Councilman Tony Wilkerson was the recipient of the Furl Williams award. Williams is a former city council president and city icon who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Black community.
“Furl meant a lot to this community, and I’m honored to receive this award. It’s overwhelming,” Wilkerson said. “It’s all about serving the community.”
The Georgia Newsome award went to Ruby Hord, whom Glenn said has “worked hard to make sure the youth and adults are made aware of the community’s needs. Georgia Newsome was a trailblazer, and this (Hord) is our trailblazer.”
Hord thanked Glenn and said it has been a “lifelong endeavor for me to be a civil activist in the community.”
The Rosa Parks award, named in honor of the Black woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955 and sparked a bus boycott that changed segregation laws, was presented to 3rd Ward City Councilwoman Carla Thompson.
“Carla continues to work hard on city council for our community. She does the things Rosa Parks did,” Glenn said.
Thompson said, “Long before the bus boycott, Rosa Parks was a worker bee for the movement. That’s what I consider myself.”
Oneida Cobb was the recipient of the Mary Coleman award, named for another former city councilwoman. Glenn said Cobb was a woman who “loves this city and loves the neighborhood association” to which she volunteers her time.
“I give thanks to God,” Cobb said. “Without Him, this would not be possible. Sometimes we want to give up, but this makes it very rewarding.”
The Larry Watkins award was presented to Donald Madlock for his tireless home improvement work on behalf of senior citizens and others in the community, providing low-cost repairs in the area of plumbing, flooring, windows and more.
The Alberta Surelds award went to Elaine Potts, who was not present at the ceremony. Glenn called her a “go-getter who helps us get information out in the community.”