GALLIPOLIS — The NAACP Southeastern Ohio branch conducted a tribute Monday to Martin Luther King Jr. in partnership with the University of Rio Grande and RSVP of the Ohio Valley Monday at the Paint Creek Regular Missionary Baptist Church on Third Avenue in Gallipolis.
Destiny Dotson, 14, a student at River Valley High School, served as a guest speaker as she put on a performance that won her state and district History Day honors and earned her a performance on the national level.
According to information provided during the service, Mabel Tanner served as mistress of ceremonies for the event. Roberta Preston played as the day’s pianist. Invocation was led by the Rev. Calvin Minnis, of Corinth Baptist Church.
The crowd sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before being welcomed by Kyle Gilliland.
Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning gave a few brief comments along with Dr. Michelle Johnston, president of the University of Rio Grande.
Jessie Payne introduced visiting dignitaries of the day.
The Scott family performed a rendition of “Break Every Chain.”
Elaine Armstrong introduced Dotson as she came before the rest of those assembled to speak. Dotson acted out the story of Ida B. Wells, an African-American leader of the Civil Rights movement who served as an investigative journalist, suffragist and was well-known for documenting lynching acts in the U.S. Wells was active in women’s rights circles as well as a vocal denouncer of racism.
Dotson received a standing ovation for her performance.
Susan Rogers, director of RSVP of the Ohio Valley, announced MLK contest winners. Rogers said it was an important year for contest winners as it was the first time in many years southeastern Ohio had representatives at the Ohio Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest.
Jarrell Scott, son of Christian and Stephanie Scott, of Gallipolis, was the Southeast Ohio Junior Division representative. Linae Scott, daughter of Christian and Stephanie Scott, was the Southeast Intermediate Division representative. Nevaeh Hightower, daughter of Marshall and Jessica Hightower, of Wheelersburg, and granddaughter of John and Susan Rogers, of Jackson, was the Southeast Primary Division representative.
Those representatives also presented their speeches.
The Rev. Dr. Douglas Carter made closing remarks, noting the importance of unity and to remember the message of Martin Luther King Jr. and his life’s influence with the help of his faith in his God. Carter also said it was important for individuals to continue to join the cause of the NAACP. According to him, many have benefited from its successes over the years. However, the group will need new members to carry on the torch as new issues and obstacles to be overcome appeared in the future.
The assembled finished with “God Bless America” and the Rev. Harry Scott led the benediction as well as the blessing of food following the service.
Branch officers of the Southeastern Ohio NAACP are as follows: President Mabel Tanner, First Vice-President Jessie Payne, Second Vice-President Kyle Gilliland, Third Vice-President Min. William F. Edwards, Secretary Martha Cosby, Treasurer Elma Johnson, Legal Redress Kyle Gilliland and Parliamentarian the Rev. Dr. Douglas Carter.
The University of Rio Grande MLK Day Committee members are as follows: Marshall Kimmel, Sabrina Hurt, Aaron Quinn, Robert Gordon, Dena Warren, Bill Plants, Susan Rogers, Cher Bellar and Krystal Wilson.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.