ROCKINGHAM — The crowd at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Prayer Breakfast filled every table as the residents of Richmond County gathered together to celebrate the life and accomplishments of King.
J.C. Watkins, chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration steering committee, spoke at the breakfast expressing his hope that the turn out for the breakfast would reflect in the rest of the activities for the weekend. Watkins said Richmond County residents need to remember King’s legacy.
“On Monday, at the march, we have an opportunity to show the public what we’re trying to do,” Watkins said. “If we get this many people at the march, then we will be doing good. We should have thousands of participants showing up for the march. To get things done, we have to do our part.”
While Watkins acknowledged the works of King, he also noted that King was gone and that in order for things to move forward, the residents have to continue his work.
“We can’t have a breakfast or a celebration every year and expect things to change,” Watkins said. “If you don’t move yourself, don’t expect anyone else to.”
Dr. Masoud Ahdieh, member of the Richmond County Human Relations Council, agreed with Watkins’ sentiments.
“It’s nice to come out and party, but then we go to sleep for the rest of the year,” Ahdieh said. “Don’t forget our goal, don’t forget the issues. If we forget, we are lost.”
Ahdieh expressed his deep concern at the division between the people of Richmond County and across the world.
“I’m sure this is not what God planned,” Ahdieh said. “God created us in a variety of colors.”
Ahdieh comes from Iran, and while he is not African American, he sees the same problems in America as he saw there. He sees the real need for equality and for people to work together to achieve it.
“God is not exclusive,” Ahdieh said. “He is for everyone.”
To emphasize his point, Ahdieh brought a page from The Daily Journal that displayed all the honor roll students. He couldn’t get over the difference between the elementary schools and the high school.
Ahdieh said the faces in the pictures changed from a diverse mix to being a picture of mainly white females — that the county is losing its males in the education system. He wanted to show how important it was that the community keeps moving forward.
“We still have work to do,” Ahdieh said.