Memphis celebrates MLK day with 'Be the Dream' celebration

Memphis celebrates MLK day with 'Be the Dream' celebration
Nine other community activists and civil rights pioneers were presented with Legacy Awards by City of Memphis on Monday. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Nine other community activists and civil rights pioneers were presented with Legacy Awards by City of Memphis on Monday. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - For the second year, City of Memphis hosted a 'Be the Dream' ceremony to celebrate the national Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The theme for the 2015 commemorative celebration was "We can speak his words, we can act in his honor, and we can be the dream."

Hundreds of people filled Mason Temple, a sanctuary saturated with Memphis history, to remember Dr. King's sacrifice.

Video of King's last speech at the temple was projected to the crowd on a big screen. His visit to the Bluff City to support sanitation strikers would be the end of his journey. He was assassinated at Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis on April 4, 1968.

H.B. Crockett, one of several sanitation workers honored during the ceremony, said he was in the audience in 1968 and remembers King's prophetic words.

"It was a big speech, I tell you that," said Crockett. "When he said he went to the mountaintop, it went all over me and I believe he went there and I believe he saw the promise land, too."

Nine other community activists and civil rights pioneers were presented with Legacy Awards by City of Memphis on Monday. The honorees were Modeane Thompson, Nancy Bogatin, Father Nicholas Vieron, Dr. Lasimba Gray, Velma Lois Jones, President Johnnie B. Watson,
Judge Bernice Donald, Barbara Holden Nixon, and Dr. W.W. Herenton.

"Everybody up here has really striven mightily and effectively to make Memphis a better place," said Mayor A C Wharton.

Donald, the first African-American woman to serve as a judge in Tennessee, said King's fight for equality paved her way to law school.

"I'm just proud to stand here today [Monday] to have someone say that I've tried to do the best that I can to fulfill the dream," she said.

Youth and community leadership awards were presented to Knowledge Quest, BRIDGES, Latino Memphis, and MIFA. A member of the Memphis Ambassador Program, Juwan Hall, said he now understands the meaning of "Be the Dream."

"I learned that you have to actually go out there and work hard and put effort into things you want to accomplish," said Hall.

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