The Rev. Randy Jackson, of Flowers Baptist Church in Grenada, Mississippi, told a packed crowd at First Street Baptist Church “don’t give up,” as he shared a poignant message at the annual Hopkinsville NAACP’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day service.

“Don’t stop singing, don’t stop serving, don’t stop reaching out,” he said Monday afternoon. “Don’t stop marching.”

Just hours before, over a hundred public, private and homeschool students had marched with their parents, teachers and community leaders from the Hopkinsville Boys and Girls Club on Walnut Street to First Street Baptist Church.

The chant “keep that dream alive, keep that dream alive” filled the frigid 19-degree air as youngsters carried signs and images of a man they’ve only learned about in books or heard of from adults.

Jackson made it a point to educate the youth about the Rev. Dr. King’s perseverance, noting that now is the most important time to teach youth about history.

“Somewhere along the way we stopped teaching our children,” the reverend said. “We changed the words from ‘We Shall Overcome’ to ‘we have overcome.’”

Jackson noted that King never gave up despite being slandered, jailed and hosed for what he believed in. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, while galvanizing support for the Poor People’s Campaign. The Poor People’s March on Washington that year was King’s attempt to get lawmakers to recognize the plight of the poor in the United States.

Jackson said King’s fight continues today.

“Dr. King cared about poor folk ... but what happened was they assassinated him so they could stop the movement,” he said. “We’ve got somebody sitting in the White House today that don’t care about poor people, brown people, white people or any people. All (he cares) about is himself.”

Jackson spoke on President Donald Trump’s signature phrase “Make America Great Again,” noting that “America is a great nation, but America’s got to repent for its racial prejudice, marginalizing, disenfranchising ways.”

“Who are you to want to push people aside,” he asked. “Who are you that want to take food out of children’s mouths when all of the money is coming from taxpayers of America, which was founded on biblical principles. America outta practice what America is preaching.”

With those thoughts, Jackson told those who are trying to keep King’s dream alive to not give up.

“Don’t let anyone stop you or make you feel inferior,” he said. “No one is superior over you. We are all God’s children. We are all the human race. It’s time out for division.”

After his speech, Jackson received a love offering from the congregation.

Other donations from the event went to the NAACP scholarship fund, which raised $1,029 throughout the weekend of events, said longtime Hopkinsville NAACP President the Rev. John Banks.

Banks went on to encourage more people to join the NAACP, which membership costs $30 per year. The organization is focused on voter registration for the upcoming election.

School board member Tom Bell presented the MLK School Challenge trophy to Freedom Elementary School, which had the most participants in the march Monday morning. Bell will also sponsor a reward for the school.

In closing, the NAACP recognized a few special participants in the march:

• Youngest walker: 4-year-old Steven Pool

• Oldest walker: Hugh Northington, 79

• Farthest traveler: A woman visiting from Idaho

• Day care participant: Little Professional Family Child Care

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com

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