Monday January 18 residents from across Montgomery County came together in unity to celebrate The Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. His dream, “deeply rooted in the American dream” was that America would “rise up and live out of the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
King’s call for dignity, discipline and peace was commemorated by the 22nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at the Woodlands United Methodist Church. The event was hosted by St. Paul Church of The Woodlands and welcomed Tim Melton, ABC 13 sportscaster, as the master of ceremonies and Austin Lane, president of Lone Star College-Montgomery, as the Keynote speaker.
During his speech in 1963 King said, “I have a dream today!” And though he was assassinated in April of 1968, many people are living to make that dream a reality today. In order to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., local high school seniors were given the opportunity to write an essay sharing how they “could make Dr. King’s dream a reality.” Yet, other students participated by designing posters themed “Living the Dream.”
Conroe High School student Tracaria White, along with Landon Morris from Oak Ridge High School and Jonelle Cathey-Harper of The Woodlands High School, received $500 scholarships for their outstanding work. Poster winners were honored with a $100 U.S. Savings Bond given to Alejandra Bremauntz for first place; a $75 Savings Bond given to Caroline Crisp for second place; and in third place Serena Li received a $50 Savings Bond.
As Melton shared, “The natural reaction is to need recognition for what you do. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message was to give back.” Many people across Conroe and surrounding areas are still working to help the people who are “exiles in their own land” by volunteering and working for justice, peace and righteousness. To honor those people in Montgomery County that have been serving the community, the Drum Major Award was presented to two outstanding couples. Jimmie and Elsa Dotson and Barbara and Don Gebert, who were recognized for the numerous ways they “give back” to the community.
The Dotsons volunteer with Big Brothers and Sisters, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Conroe ISD Task Force for Strategic Planning, the 100 Club of Montgomery County, The Montgomery County Women’s Center, the Tamina Action Community Association and Montgomery County United Way.
Barbara and Don Gebert helped organize The Woodlands Religious Community, which became Interfaith of The Woodlands; they co-founded The Villager newspaper, The Community Clinic, Montgomery County Youth Services, The Montgomery County Community Foundation and the Peace and Justice Coalition of Montgomery County.
To make such notable changes in a community it takes strength and resiliency, two things which Keynote speaker Austin Lane spoke to that he has seen in his lifetime. From his mother and grandmother who raised him, to two other figures in his life, “Growing up, we only knew of two other strong and resilient people. One we learned about at church every Sunday.” The other may not be surprising, as Lane shared, “It was not until I was 8 years old that I realized Martin Luther King, Jr. was not my father. We had pictures of him everywhere.”
While King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 – as the third African American, second American, and youngest person to receive the prize at that time – and held twenty honorary degrees, as well as being Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1963, he asked that people not remember him for his awards or where he went to school. During a sermon in 1968 King used the 20th Century notion of the ‘Drum Major Instinct’ to explain how he hoped to be remembered, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness.”
Now 42 years later people across Conroe, Texas and the U.S. are living to make Dr. King’s dream of equality a reality and taking the third Monday of each January to celebrate the work that was started years ago that continues shaping their community today. This day was not only a Holiday to remember King and the changes that have been made, but a day to continue dreaming of a better tomorrow too.