Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name is in the title of a program scheduled Saturday night in Mount Airy, but it also will celebrate Surry Countians who’ve perpetuated the principles for which King stood.
This will be accomplished through music and other attractions during the museum’s annual presentation of “In the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — Surry Countians Continuing the Dream.”
The program, for which admission is free, will be held on the third floor of the museum, beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting until 8:30.
“It will be full of music and poetry and multimedia events,” museum Executive Director Matt Edwards said of Saturday’s gathering. “And it’s also lots of fun.”
“In the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — Surry Countians Continuing the Dream,” originated in 2005 as the brainchild of LaDonna McCarther, a volunteer at the museum, and her sister, Cheryl Yellow Fawn Scott.
“We’re very excited to have this program here at the museum,” Edwards continued. “It is always one of our best-attended programs.”
Its growing popularity is being accompanied this year by a change of venue within the museum confines. “I think the big change is we’ve moved the program from the annex into the museum itself,” Edwards said.
Local Schools Focus
The museum director also addressed the dual purpose of Saturday’s program.
“This is kind of a chance for us to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King and to celebrate an individual from our local African-American community,” Edwards explained.
Different community residents have been honored during the annual program who have exemplified what King taught and believed. These are persons who’ve worked to achieve conditions he espoused, such as educational and economic opportunity — and thereby furthered the late civil rights leader’s “dream” in their corner of the world.
This year’s program will continue a tribute to J.J. Jones School, museum officials said of the institution that served generations of African-American students from around the area during the segregation years. Included will be recognition of former teachers, students and graduates who attended the elementary feeder schools to J.J. Jones High School.
Under a state consolidation program, some county elementary schools were incorporated into J.J. Jones School in 1954. These were the Mount Airy Colored, Ararat Colored Elementary, Sandy Level, Virginia Street, White Plains, Red Brush, Combstown, Willis Gap, Pisgah/Little Richmond, Cross Roads, Chestnut Ridge Elementary, Pilot Mountain Colored, Westfield, Pinnacle, Brown Mountain Colored and Big Creek schools.
As co-directors of Saturday night’s presentation, McCarther and Scott envision “a program of healing (that) will focus on the sacrifices of love, learning, service, perseverance and hope of the African-American community of Surry County.”
McCarther added, “It is our dream that all individuals involved with the feeder schools and J.J. Jones High School will attend in celebration of the area history.”
Community residents who have attended the program in past years say it offers an uplifting experience and a message of unity and progress everyone can embrace regardless of their color.
While this weekend’s program is free, donations will be greatly appreciated, museum officials say. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.