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MLK Coalition Festival begins with annual breakfast

Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 9:12 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Growing up, he always believed that Martin Luther King Jr. was a “black man fighting for black people,” local businessman John Stelly told a full house Friday morning at the Martin Luther King Memorial Breakfast at Trinity Baptist Church.

“As I matured in Christ, I realized Dr. King was a Christian man fighting for everybody,” he said.

The breakfast was the opener for the MLK Coalition Festival, which continues through Monday.

The festival’s theme is “Yes, Dr. King had a dream; but I too have a dream,” which many of the breakfast’s speakers followed.

The program began early Friday morning with rousing performances from Barbe and Sulphur’s show choirs, which then joined with singers from DeRidder, LaGrange and Washington-Marion in Trinity’s main auditorium.

In addition to having their own dreams, the speakers urged the crowd to continue to do its part.

“I realized I play an important role in keeping the dream alive,” Stelly said.

The breakfast’s keynote speaker, Steve James, pastor of Trinity Baptist, said he has a dream “for people of the Lake Area to know genuinely that the churches on the north side and the churches on the south side, because we have a common bond of loving the Lord Jesus Christ, are churches who love each other. Not just in what we say but what we do.”

George Swift, president and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, told the crowd of growing up in his hometown of Selma, Ala.

“The right to vote did not come easy,” he said.

The economic growth that Southwest Louisiana is experiencing will “only be successful if all benefit,” he said.

Three young essay winners spoke ­— Austin Dellafosse of T.S. Cooley Elementary, Michael Anderson of W.W. Lewis Middle School and Claude Albritton II of Sam Houston High School.

Particularly well-spoken for an elementary school student, Delafosse said his dream is of becoming a physician who fights for health care equality.

“T.E. Lawrence once said, ‘All men dream, but not equally,’ ” he said. “Although my dream is not equal to Dr. King’s, it is still just as important.”

Anderson said that he wishes to see a world in which people aren’t “labeled.”

“I have to make a difference so that one day my dream will become a reality,” he said.

Albritton said he had a dream of restoration.

“It’s time to be united and the United States of America is given meaning again,” Albritton said.

Posted By: Lynn Dearden On: 1/19/2013

Title: MLK Coalition Breakfast

I thought that they were supposed to announce who won the Unsung Hero Award. So did John Stelly win the award or was he a speaker? Or will it be announced at later MLK events? Or is it a State Award only?

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