Columbia celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday, January 17, 2011 | 5:19 p.m. CST; updated 4:46 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Shalia Ford, state youth director for the Missouri NAACP branch, speaks Monday during a ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Battle Garden. Ford said children today should not only recognize the dream of King, but also honor their own dreams as well.

COLUMBIA — About 65 celebrants gathered at the snow-covered Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park to hear speeches honoring King's legacy Monday.

Mary Ratliff, president of the Columbia and Missouri State NAACP, organized the ceremony, which was followed by a motorcade procession of about 50 cars to Second Baptist Church, 407 E. Broadway, for more speeches, awards and song.


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Shalia Ford, Missouri State Youth Advisor, spoke to the young people in the crowd.

"Take each day to remember the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also remember the dreams that are in your heart and pursue them with diligence," she said.

Philisha Sadberry, 5, was one of about 100 people who attended the later ceremony at Second Baptist Church. She said that she dreams of going roller-skating and being a cheerleader and a teacher.

DeAnn Gould, Philisha's mom, said that it is important to her to teach her children to remember this day and its meaning in history.

"Those day-to-day things that we enjoy haven't always been like that," Gould said. "Someone had to die in order for us to get that."

Gould prompted her daughter with memories of an earlier discussion they had about King. Sadberry nodded as her mother asked, "Did I tell you he liked everybody and he wanted everybody to get along?"

Gould said her own mother was a member of the NAACP and inspired her to work toward her dreams and to teach her children to do the same. She remembered her mom telling her, "If you believe it and you know in your heart that you're right, then you go with it."

Gould's son, Keith Caldwell, 17, talked about the importance of remembering history.

"What's important to me is that old black people can share with us young people how things went down, how whites and blacks didn't get along."

Caldwell said that he talks with friends at his school in Laddonia, Community R-VI. They can appreciate King's legacy together, he said, calling the day "one of the best holidays" for its ability to honor people who stepped up to change the world and bring equality.

Rev. Gill Ford, NAACP National Director of Capacity Building, gave the keynote speech at the ceremony, telling people not to be complacent but to be vocal and to encourage each other's dreams.

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