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Mayor recognizes community service

special to the dm

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech nearly 49 years ago, rallying over 200,000 civil rights supporters in Washington, D.C., during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Just over a week ago, Kelly Shannon and a group of University of Mississippi students were recognized for their efforts, this time through community service in King’s name.
King’s legacy lives on through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, celebrated as a national holiday in the United States and observed as far away as Hiroshima.
In Oxford, the events commemorating MLK Day were recognized by Mayor George “Pat” Patterson during this past week’s board of aldermen meeting.
The events held at the Oxford Activity Center saw 228 volunteers help put together a way to celebrate, educate and serve others by encouraging visitors to donate canned goods and other supplies to benefit the Doors of Hope program.
Attendees also participated in child-friendly arts and crafts activities and civil rights history trivia, among other activities.
The events were held by Volunteer Oxford, the University of Mississippi Volunteer Services and the Office of the Dean of Students, College Corps, the North Mississippi VISTA Project at the University of Mississippi, the Ole Miss College of Liberal Arts and the Oxford Park Commission.
Volunteer Oxford director Kelly Shannon said King’s dream has become our reality.
“There would not be a lot of equality for many groups in our population if it wasn’t for him,” she said.
“I just think people should think of it not just as a day off of work or school, but reflecting and somehow showing appreciation for the shot he took for everybody.”
King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”
Serving others, according to Shannon, and reflecting on civil rights are a big part of MLK Day.
Charles Ross, director of African-American studies at Ole Miss, said the importance of King’s work goes back to his commitment to changing American society.
“Particularly in the Deep South and opening up opportunities for, as he said, ‘for America to open up its true creed,’ to integrate African Americans socially and also politically, to have an opportunity to cast votes,” he said.
Ross said he thinks the push for equality as well as the chance to allow America to utilize an entire population of people is what drives him and his work.
“It was that he really wanted America to reach its full potential as a society,” he said.
“He spent a whole lot of time organizing, mobilizing, leading and pressuring individuals and people that ran this country — presidents, people in Congress — to in fact try to do that.”
For more information about Volunteer Oxford, follow the organization on Facebook (Volunteer Oxford) or Twitter (@oxfordvolunteer) or visit www.volunteeroxford.org.