Candelight walk, memorial service honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 21, 2013 | 9:40 p.m. CST; updated 6:46 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Columbia residents commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Candlelight Walk and Celebration on Monday.

COLUMBIA — When Robert Cheatum went to pick up his 10-year-old son Miles from his ex-wife's home Monday night, he did not expect Miles to get into the car with a homemade sign.

The sign, made of cardboard with a duct tape handle, had hand-written messages such as, "for freedom we shall overcome" and "in MLK we trust."

"I thought the sign was cute," Cheatum said.

Miles made the sign for his first time attending the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Candlelight Walk and Celebration, which took place Monday night. This was the 41st year for the walk and memorial.

About 40 people participated in the candlelight walk, which began at the Douglass High School gym and ended at the Second Missionary Baptist Church, 407 E. Broadway.

Cheatum, who has attended the candlelight walk many times, said it was important to bring his son along to let him know what African-Americans have overcome.

"I told him that when I was his age I was attending an all-black school and what it was like to experience racial integration," he said.

Barbara Michael attended the walk for the first time with four other members of the Oblates of the Order of St. Benedict.

Michael said the walk went along with Oblates of the Order of St. Benedict's values, such as promoting peace and justice.

"It was a wonderful day to do it," she said. "Especially on the same day as the second inauguration of our first African-American president."

Once arriving at the church, the walk participants where welcomed inside to a memorial service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of the service was "Passing on the Dream" and included prayers, scripture readings, choir singing and a speech. 

Bill Thompson, a member of the MLK Association and coordinator of the walk and church service, introduced the speaker for the night, Josephine Stokes-Wheat.

Stokes-Wheat talked about "Passing on the Dream" with a focus on the younger generation.

"We are a colorful country, and we have to teach young people how to work together and unite," she said.

After Stokes-Wheat's speech, Thompson followed up on the reason why people were gathered at the church. 

"We need to recognize that Martin Luther King made a major impact on all of our lives," Thompson said.

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