23rd annual MLK event to be celebrated Sunday

COVINGTON - The residents of Newton County will come together Sunday for the 23rd year to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

At 3 p.m. at Newton High School's Porter Auditorium, the public is invited to attend the celebration.

"If we let it die, we defeated the cause," said Josephine Brown, secretary of the program's committee, about the event. "If 10 people show up, the dream lives on, but we don't want only 10 people to show up."

In the past, hundreds of Newton County residents have filled the auditorium at the school.

This year, the keynote speaker for the event is Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, who is also an attorney, author and lecturer.

"We wanted somebody who has been a part of the struggle and who is making a difference in the community by being a public figure," Brown said.

The day also will include a choir performance and the presentation of the I Have a Dream award, which was previously given to City Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams, attorney Tommy Craig and Brown, among others.

"The recipient is one who has emulated the philosophy and discipleship of Dr. King through personal selfless counts of benevolence and generosity," according to the organizers' press statement.

Brown encouraged every resident to celebrate King somewhere, even if it's not at the Newton County celebration.

"We realize other things are going on in the community and being selfish is not us," she said. "We extend this to our community, and it's their choice."

Alice Walker, an organizer of the Chamber Music Concert, said the concert was moved from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday in order not to pull attendees from the King celebration.

"We wanted to be sure everybody had a chance to attend both events," Walker said about the free concert, which will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Covington featuring violinist Roumena Georgieva and pianist Phillip Skerrett Jr.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.