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Participants in yesterday's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life gather onstage at James Monroe High to sing 'We Shall Overcome.'
Eric Armstead leads the Spotsylvania Church of God choir during yesterday's Martin Luther King Jr. event at James Monroe High.
On his first day of high school, Roland Moore calmly walked over the words "Nigger, go home," scrawled on the sidewalk in front of James Monroe High School.
On Sept. 4, 1962, Moore was a 14-year-old freshman and the first black student at the Fredericksburg high school.
Yesterday, Moore addressed a crowd gathered at the James Monroe auditorium to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Moore told the nearly 400 people in attendance that courage and tolerance were important to effect change. He was one of seven speakers who focused on King's record of community service and helping others.
"As you leave here today, I need you to commit one hour of your time, a week, a day, a month, just one hour of your time assisting a child in need," Moore said.
He wasn't the only speaker to challenge the audience.
Philanthropist Doris Buffett spoke about the power of education to lift people out of poverty, crime and abuse.
She told the audience that her brother, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, ends his speeches by asking people to take a piece of paper and write the name of a person they admire and list that person's characteristics.
"On the other side of the paper, you start working toward those for yourself," Doris Buffett said. "And pretty soon, you become the person you admire."
And those who honored King thought the slain civil rights hero could be the perfect model.
U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, said that the words and actions of King "are as critical today" as they were during the tumultuous struggle for civil rights.
Jeffrey Scott, son of the late Fredericksburg Circuit Court Judge John Scott, said that King inspired his parents to lead the city Head Start program, tutor young women and head the local chapter of the NAACP. "Dr. King's commitment was to a community of human beings," Scott said. "The importance of giving back is to do so without prejudice."
Repeatedly, speakers quoted King as saying, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
In between rousing musical numbers that often drew the crowd to its feet, area youths recited some of King's more famous words.
And that underscored the significance of King's legacy, said Caroline County resident Vernell Jackson.
"It's important to honor Dr. King so the young people will learn about all the good things he did," she said after the event. "I think it's a great inspiration for them."
Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973
Today, 10 a.m. to noon, the Bragg Hill Family Life Center's celebration will honor volunteers and veterans. The event will include music, speeches and the presentation of King Spirit awards to outstanding community volunteers. Admission is free. For details, call 540/371-3662.
Today, 9 a.m., the King George Branch of the NAACP will hold its annual MLK Breakfast at the King George Citizens Center. The cost is $15. For details, call 540/775-4312 or 804/742-9999.
Today, 9:30 a.m., the Spotsylvania Sunday School Union will host a Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at the Ramada Inn. The program features a portrayal of Harriet Tubman, the LA Davies Praise Dancers and music. The cost is $15. For details, call 540/582-6478 or 540/424-0912.
Wednesday, 4 p.m., the University of Mary Washington will host Marc Lamont Hill as he delivers the keynote address for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The speech will focus on political activism and social change. The event is free and at UMW's Dodd Auditorium. For details, visit umw.edu.
Thursday, 6 p.m., UMW will host a showing of the 2007 documentary "King: Man of Peace in a Time of War." The film will be shown in room 411 of Lee Hall. A discussion will follow. The event is free. For details, visit umw.edu.