ROCKINGHAM — About 200 people walked the streets of downtown Rockingham as they marched in the 2014 Commemorative March in the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Betty Brewington, 71, of Rockingham, stood at the entrance of the old courthouse in order to welcome the different churches and individuals that participated in the long walk that ended right at the steps of the building.
She stood there bundled up in her coat, scarf and hat as she sang “We Shall Overcome” with those entering the courthouse. Decorated all over her scarf were buttons from years past — each button with the year written on it.
“I’ve been at this march and at this celebration every year since the first year,” Brewington said.
Brewington knows the importance of taking the time out to remember the man that spoke out for freedom and equality.
“I believe firmly in what he (King) taught,” Brewington said. “He is the reason for all of this and every year the crowd gets bigger and bigger.”
As people gathered into the courtroom at the old courthouse, music was playing and the crowd was singing “Happy Birthday” to King. Young and old clapped and danced along to the music. The courtroom filled to the brim as there were not enough places for everyone to sit, leaving many in the crowd standing for the presentation after the march.
Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. addressed the crowd as one of the many elected officials that spoke at the event. As he stood in front of everyone, he split the crowd between the seniors, the 21- to 50-year-olds, and the youth.
Clemmons emphasized that this was the past, present and future. The seniors represent the struggles from before, those in the middle age range showed how far we have come, but it was the youth that was the most important of all.
“You (the youth) are responsible for carrying us forward,” Clemmons said.
The youth represented the largest group in the crowd, something that was very encouraging for Brewington.
“It is so amazing to see the young crowd grow in numbers too,” Brewington said. “They’re keeping the dream alive.”
As a representative of that youth, Brianna David, 17 and a senior at Richmond Senior High School, stood in front of the crowd to speak about King’s importance to society today. David is planning on attending UNC Chapel Hill once she graduates from high school. She wants to study biology.
David said that King’s message included all of God’s children and that every person in society should strive to become part of the solution instead of being part of the problem — and that the people should keep the dream alive 365 days out of the year instead of just a couple of days in January.
“We should never forget the struggle, because out of the struggle came progress,” David said.