Many waves of struggling people still come to American shores seeking economic, social and spiritual freedom. Patrick Henry, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman fought to define the freedoms of their generations. They were ridiculed, jailed or murdered for seeking equality.
“I believe that the challenge for today’s youth is to see the relationship between the civil rights movement and the freedoms they enjoy, today,” said Erran Persley, who will be a keynote speaker for the Unity's Group's upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
Persley is with the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
This year's theme is "Focus 2020: A New Generation Defines Its Freedoms."
“Today, African-Americans continue to be second-class citizens because we have very little collective net worth. Every dollar we earn is spent with some other ethnic group,” said Quenston Coleman, chairman of the Unity Group’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
“Freedom is the process of removing barriers that separate us and the act of opening the doors of opportunity to choose our personal pathways,” he said.
The Unity Group’s 43rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration is a series of activities commemorating the work of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The celebration ends on Jan. 21, the same day President Barack Obama will take the oath of office.
The events begin this morning with a Children's Rights conference and a community worship service tonight. A prayer breakfast, a King birthday party and a memorial march and program complete the scheduled activities.
Persley volunteers to teach an economics and research class for inner-city high school student to prepare them for college and work.
The Community Worship Service is tonight at 7 at Westside Baptist Church, 4001 Hughes Ave. The Rev. Susan Butler, rector at Grace Episcopal Church, will speak.
Saturday at 9 a.m. the Annual Prayer Breakfast will be held at Second Missionary Baptist Church, 2305 E. Third St. The Rev. Kevin M. Smith, pastor of New City Fellowship Church, will be the speaker. A donation of $15 will be taken.
Dr. King's Birthday Party will be held Sunday at 4 p.m., at New Zion Baptist Church, 809 East M.L. King Blvd. Ashton Alexander, youth minister at New Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church, will speak.
Monday at 4 p.m., the Memorial March will travel from Olivet Baptist Church, 740 East M.L. King Blvd., to the Tivoli Theatre at the corner of Sixth and Broad streets.
The main program with Persley as speaker will be held at 5 p.m. Monday at the Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.