King's dream of 'Unity' exemplified in Sulphur Springs
From Staff Reports

Jan. 18, 2005 -- Sulphur Springs was recognized Monday night as a community which exemplifies the dream of "unity" expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.

Monroe, La., Mayor Jamie Mayo indicated during his keynote address to the attendants of the 14th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Ceremony that in all of his business and political dealings, Sulphur Springs stands out as one of the communities which best shows King's vision of individuals of varied ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds living and working together in harmony. He also noted how impressed he was with the community's hospitality toward him throughout his day in town, which included lunch and visits with city and county officials.

The keynote speaker was noted to be mayor of Monroe, La., the city of which East Caney Baptist Church Pastor Dr. M. LaVelle Hendricks, who helped coordinate the event, is a native.

Mayo impressed upon the audience the importance of persistence and dedication toward a task. He told of his boyhood, growing up in a shotgun house, where his mother challenged him to always "do the best I can" at anything he attempts. He said that she taught him to get back up when life deals a hard blow and knocks him down, a learned tactic which played an important role in his successes. By "getting back up" he was able to finish not only high school but attain a business degree from college, to continue on when a significant business venture failed, and to keep trying in the political arena. He stated that by working hard and not giving up, he was elected to Monroe's city council in the 1990s and now serves as mayor of that Louisiana city, and encouraged others to do the same in order to attain their goals.

Following Mayo's words of advice, about 30 local groups and individuals were recognized by event sponsor East Caney Missionary Baptist Church as spiritual, political, educational, medical, humanitarian, enterprise and law enforcement leaders who have crossed multi-racial and multi-worship barriers to help "fulfill Dr. King's dream of uniting us." People illustrating strides in social change, exhibiting the spirit of service, fellowship, dedication and faithfulness, as well as several others were also recognized Monday night at the program.

The 2005 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award recipients included Clifton Peoples, spiritual; VaLinda Hathcox, political; Hillary Young, education; Esther Crook, medical; Community Chest, humanitarian; the Rev. Milton Phifer, social change; Wilbert Roland, Legacy of King; Terry Williams, spirit of service; Pastor Kenneth Rogers, fellowship; Blanche Askew, choice of excellence; Pastor Rudy Ellis, Pastor of the Year; Ashley Porter, youth; Pacific Park Mass Choir, music; Christene Askew, evangelism; Evelyn Dial, encouragement; Mary Porter, faithfulness; White Funeral Home, enterprise; Dr. Somjai Tris, King's Kids; Allen Story, law enforcement; Bernard Askew, spirit of dedication; Janie Relford, spirit of commitment; Pastor Larry Jordan, MLK Man of the Year; Vanessa Abron, MLK Woman of the Year; and Star Nuckolls, MLK Person of the Year.

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