Banquets salute legacy of MLK

rlurye@islandpacket.comJanuary 18, 2014 

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his 'I Have A Dream' speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963.

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Organizations in Beaufort and Bluffton remembered Martin Luther King, Jr., on Saturday with one of them honoring members of their communities whose actions have kept his spirit alive.

The events are part of week-long celebrations of the civil rights activist's birthday.

In Beaufort

The Beaufort County Ministerial Alliance recognized two women at its annual banquet at Beaufort Elementary School, presenting the MLK Humanitarian Award to Lois Pigler Jenkins and Beverly Lawyer Berry.

Jenkins, a retired teacher and librarian and mother of Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen, was honored for her community service, alliance president Sam Spain said before the banquet Saturday.

"She has helped champion so many causes within this county," including helping orchestrate a World Day of Prayer, Spain said. "She has just been a jewel, a helper in the community."

Berry, a manager on Spring Island, received her award for religion in recognition of nearly 15 years of missionary work in Jamaica.

Berry has visited the country each year since 1999, bringing donated clothing and personal items to families and churches there. On her last trip in October, Berry delivered about 700 pounds of donations, alliance secretary Carrie Allen said.

The annual banquet gives the alliance an opportunity to celebrate the man who championed the African American civil rights movement until his assassination in 1968, Spain said.

"We just believe so much about what Dr. King stands for and what he fought so diligently to procure for not only people, but people of color," he said. "So this legacy we must keep alive."

The alliance will hold its annual parade at 10 a.m. Monday, starting on Rodgers Street. The closing program will follow at 11:30 a.m. at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

In Bluffton

The Martin Luther King Jr. Committee hosted banquet on Saturday at Campbell Chapel AME Church in Bluffton.

The event's speaker, an engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said he was grateful for the chance to honor his Bluffton roots.

Louis L. Mitchell, who also is a member of the Army Reserve, was inspired by the committee's theme for the weekend, "Insufferable struggle, shared legacy."

He spoke on the importance of King's frequent refrain, "What are you doing for others?"

"Oftentimes, we get siloed in, 'What's in it for us?'" Mitchell said. "But we have to open up our perspective, and ... try to live in peace and harmony with others."

That, he said, will enrich the soul.

The committee will hold a memorial service at 12:30 p.m. Monday at Bluffton Town Hall, followed by a parade at 2 p.m.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca

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