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Unity stressed at MLK Banquet

By Floyd Miller



The MLK Banquet was the place to be in the City of Abilene on January the 17th. As the 6:00 hour approached, you could see a line of old friends coming together to meet one another at the largest multi-cultural event in the city. As you looked across the crowd, you saw people from all races, creeds, and colors. It was a gathering that Dr. King dreamed about and spoke so eloquent about in his “I Have A Dream “ speech, and other speeches. Dr. Carol Dupree, provost of Cisco College served as Mistress of Ceremony she did an outstanding job. Other participants in the program were Alvin Hatcher Jr., Alora Hatcher, and also Andrea Hinojosa, who recited the Pledge of Allegiance. After the pledge and posting of the colors, we were led in the National Anthem by Mr. Sam Cook, associate music professor and artist in residence at Abilene Christian University.{{more}} The Invocation was given by Dr. James Shields, Th.D Senior Professor of Theology Emeritus, at Hardin Simmons University. Before we enjoyed dinner, the MLK Celebration Community Mass Choir, organized by Ms. Ledessa White and directed by Mrs. Ernesta Singleton did an outstanding job. They were accompanied by musicians Matthew Joshua and Charles Oliphant. Oliphant also entertained us with dinner music. After dinner was served, Mr. Allan Lockett presented scholarships to four deserving students. Those receiving scholarships were Ms.Sharpaira Lynell Fields, Ms. Tiffany Joyce Lewis, Ms. Jasmine MLK Scholarship Award Winners. Photo by Sienna MillerRacquel Webbs, and Mr. Darius Marcel Fitts. After the scholarships were awarded, Dr. Dupree introduced Floyd Miller, President of the Abilene Black Chamber and he introduced the keynote speaker Robert Criner better known as “Mr. Enthusiasm”. Criner spoke on the subject of Unity and laid out a plan that could help unify a city, a community, and a nation, if we only followed a few simple techniques. He engaged the audience by asking us to participate in several different exercises. The activities involved standing, stretching, smiling and singing. The song of choice was “This Little Light of Mine”. Many said this was rated as one of the best speeches heard at an MLK Celebration. After an evening of being entertained and educated, Miller presented an award to Mr. Criner for giving an Outstanding Speech. He also thanked the audience for coming and recognized the MLKFloyd Miller, President of the Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce, thanking the Sponsors, Underwriters and MLK Committee for their contributions. Photo by Sienna Miller Committee as well as the Sponsors and Underwriters of the event. The sponsors were Abilene Reporter News, Rep. Susan King, and The Shelton Foundation. The Underwriters were Abilene Christian University, Ben E. Keith, Dodge Jones Foundation, First Financial Bank and McMurry University.The program concluded with Mr. Sam Cook leading us in “Lift Every Voice and Sing’ and Rev. Dr. Houston McClendon, Ph. D, taking us to the throne of God in Prayer.See these photos and more in the “Picture Stories Around Abilene” section of the West Texas Tribune online.

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