Carry MLK’s torch, speaker says|Speaker urges facing problems as King would have

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Remember the lessons taught by Martin Luther King Jr., those attending a celebration of his birth were told Monday night.

“Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off” was the theme for the 24th annual Vicksburg birthday memorial of the civil rights leader. About 200 people attended the event at the Vicksburg Auditorium.

Keynote speaker Dr. Ivory Phillips, vice president of the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees and dean emeritus of education at Jackson State University, said that by both his life and his death, King left basic principles that can be used to solve problems faced by African-Americans today — including the threat to consolidate Mississippi’s historically black colleges and universities in order to save money.

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Phillips reviewed many of the key points of King’s life, including his work as a Baptist minister, his sacrificial leadership in the Civil Rights Movement and his opposition to the Vietnam War.

“He represented a completely new movement, a change, a hope, a dream,” Phillips said. “If you understand this, there is no reason for you not to know who he is or what he is to us.”

King embodied moral courage, Phillips said, and his work reflected the critical importance of “righteous indignation” and the principle that those involved in a struggle for human rights cannot wait to act until everyone is convinced their cause is just.

Vicksburg High School senior Stormy Charmaine Trotter, 18, served as mistress of ceremonies, and students from VHS, Warren Central High School and the junior high schools danced and served as ushers.

“They need to learn the history,” said Bobbie Bingham Morrow, one of the organizers of the celebration, on the importance of including the city’s youths. “They have so many privileges that others before them did not have.”

The event was sponsored by the Mississippi Chapter of Blacks in Government, the Vicksburg NAACP and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day Committee. Also speaking were Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield and Warren County Board of Supervisors President Richard George, representatives of the three branches of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers based in Vicksburg and John Shorter, president of the Vicksburg branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Phillips taught social science education courses at JSU from 1968 to 2006, and was honored at his retirement by the Mississippi Legislature which passed a resolution commending his service to higher education in the state. Phillips is also the author of four books and hundreds of articles.

The event wrapped up a day of activities honoring the late civil rights leader. At Monday’s breakfast, held at the Vicksburg Convention Center and attended by about 200 people, Judge Tyree Irving of the Mississippi Court of Appeals spoke about King’s impact and urged blacks to aim as high as Dr. King would have advocated in areas such as education, parenting and community service. The city had also planned a downtown parade Saturday which was canceled due to rain.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at