Once again, the weather cooperated for the annual MLK March in Walnut Cove on Monday. Sunny skies and comfortable temperatures greeted participants who gathered at the Cove Mart to march in memory and honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“It makes you reminisce on what it might’ve been like marching when they weren’t able to march in the streets freely,” said Larry Hairston. Although he resides in Winston-Salem, Larry’s family roots are in Walnut Cove, and he came out on Jan. 21 for his fourth march there.
He was joined by about 80 other marchers who circled up in a vacant lot at the south end of town and joined in prayer. “Let us remember that where we are today, someone paved the way for us,” the Rev. Greg Hairston of Rising Star Baptist Church prayed before the marchers took to the streets.
The long line of participants — from young children to the elderly — walked casually up Main Street, occasionally breaking into songs such as “Down By the Riverside” and “We Shall Overcome.” Walnut Cove Police Chief Chad Williams led the way in his patrol car as other vehicles slowed down to watch the procession.
When the marchers arrived at Rising Star, they found many people already seated in preparation for the MLK Memorial Service. The church was overflowing, forcing ushers to bring out chairs to accommodate the crowd.
Still, Rev. Hairston was not satisfied. He took note of the excellent weather and told the congregation, “There is no excuse on a day like today. We should’ve had 500 people marching.”
Local youth played a big role in the service, as Mistress of Ceremonies Susan Allen kept things moving along. Jaron Searcy opened with prayer. Another young man, Nigel McEachern, read the Scripture which had been the basis of this year’s youth writing contest sponsored by the Christian Awareness Program (CAP) — Genesis 26:12-13: “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great.”
The emphasis was on the word “forward,” which the young writers made into an acronym. The youth participants were recognized, and a few read the narrative they had written to accompany their original acronym.
“We must remember that the Lord has brought us out of difficult dilemmas and storms…We shouldn’t let anyone or anything stop us from moving forward,” Jamaal Searcy read from his composition.
Throughout the energetic service, the youth performed. The community youth choir sang “How Great Is Our God,” and different groups such as New London Praise Dance Team and Harmony Crusaders for Christ did praise dances. As Micah Phillips prepared to do his dance to “Incredible God, Incredible Praise,” he told the crowd, “I feel like Martin Luther King was another Moses. He led us to the promised land.”
After Town of Walnut Cove officials and local clergy were recognized, Rev. Hairston closed out the service. He reminded the people what Dr. King had accomplished and urged them not to quit fighting for civil rights even now.
“Our men who went to war and fought side by side came home and couldn’t eat together in the same restaurants,” Rev. Hairston passionately recalled. “And don’t think the battle’s over … Let’s don’t let the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King be destroyed, be terminated … Thank you to CAP for keeping the vision alive.”