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Pastor Eric Armstead and the Celebration Choir perform 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' during Sunday's Martin Luther King Jr. event.
Audience members look on as Upper Lafayette Elementary performing-arts students sing three songs honoring Dr. King during a celebration of his birthday sponsored by the Multicultural OutReach Effort at James Monroe High School.
The Rev. Lawrence A. Davies, former Fredericksburg mayor and a retired pastor, delivers the invocation Sunday.
When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, he called out for freedom to ring.
"Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi," he said that August day when thousands marched on Washington. "From every mountainside, let freedom ring."
Another pastor with the same last name renewed that message Sunday afternoon, bringing hundreds to their feet at a celebration of the civil rights leader's birthday.
Among amens and clapping, the Rev. James King of Spotsylvania's The Land of Promise Church called out for freedom to ring here, too--from Cosner's Corner to Central Park, from Fredericksburg's Civil War battlefields to Stafford's courthouse, seamlessly flowing his words with King's.
"It seems Fredericksburg has its own Dr. King!" exclaimed Xavier Richardson, vice president of the Multicultural OutReach Effort, the host of the seventh annual event.
King was one of many speakers, singers and dancers who took part in the event at James Monroe High School.
Many challenged and inspired the audience to serve, to help the community while remembering King's legacy.
Anne Little, founder of Tree Fredericksburg, an organization that is replenishing Fredericksburg's tree canopy, said that those who do the service receive the greatest benefit.
She said that many volunteers come through her organization, some to fulfill required service hours. Often, they show up with their shoulders slouching but leave at the end of the day smiling, all attitude gone.
"I attribute it to the trees," she said. "I think trees work their magic on our volunteers."
Antwan Perry, an academic counselor and adjunct instructor at Germanna Community College, encouraged everyone to dream big.
We all have personal dreams, about hopes for our lives, he said. But King's dreams were for the betterment of the community and the world. Perry called for audience members to look at their neighbors and ask them to dream, and to dream big. He then asked everyone to point to themselves and say "change the world."
Rebecca Adamson has spent her life trying to do just that for Native Americans.
Adamson, the daughter of an eastern Cherokee mother and a Swedish father, has fought to save indigenous culture and communities through her organization, First Peoples Worldwide.
She says leadership is related to all--including the earth and the animals.
"Service-leadership is when you put others first," she said, "and you see your role as helping others."
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975