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Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrated
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Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrated

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ROCK ISLAND -- Veline Shukoru, 12, a Rock Island Academy student, still knows how important it is to study the life of Martin Luther King Jr., even after his 1968 assassination.

It remains important to learn about racism, and realize that the "same stuff" is faced even today, Veline said.

Celebrating King's birthday "means the world to me," agreed Valerie Mayberry Mayes, of Davenport, originally from Rock Island. She was clad in a 2008 sweatshirt from President Barack Obama days, and left the Martin Luther King Center on route to a similar event at Davenport's Sacred Heart Church.

The 36th annual event at the King Center, 630 Ninth Street in Rock Island, lasted just about two hours in length.

The theme was “Accepting evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

The Rev. Darryl Keith Thompson, of House of Fire Ministries, delivered an inspiring keynote address.

"My message was that we need unity in our community, and  if we see something, we need to say something. We need to speak up against evils," Thompson said.

"We need to stand up and be like Moses, a leader who stands up for justice," he said, citing Scripture from Biblical chapters of Exodus."We need more Moseses to say 'Let my people go,' from predatory loaning institutions, slum lords, rent-a-centers, and other things that are not good for our communities.

"We need more Moseses like our educators, police officers, public servants and fair-minded politicians," he said.

More than 450 people attended the program, according to center executive director Jerry Jones.

The program also highlighted award presentations, such as to Brandy Donaldson, 36, of Rock Island, who received the “I Have A Dream Award” for exceptional community service.

Anthony Collins, a Black Hawk College student majoring in music business was honored with the M.L. Lockhart Scholarship, while Juana Perez Morales, a sixth grader at Rock Island Center for Math and Science, and and an interpretive dance group performing to John Legend's "Glory" claimed Youth Expression Contest Awards.

Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms shared an official welcome, while pastor Earlye Julien from Living Water Christian Center delivered the invocation, and pastor Doug Rowland, of Rock Island Bible Church, gave the he benediction.

The program was gratifying to Jones because of having so many people coming to remember and honor Dr. King, he said.

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