By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
We walked into the Athens City Council meeting room to grab some coffee before we started, and Mayor Ronnie wanted to show me a new addition to this year’s celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday — art created by Athens Middle School students. For several years there has been an essay contest, which spans several grade levels, and this year there were upwards of 40 entries. The winners of both contests will be announced on January 21 at the MLK celebration in the County Event Center.
“Some kids write well, and some kids do better at expressing themselves through art; so this year we added the art contest,” said the mayor. All were touching, and some were unintentionally humorous. One showed a white kid and a black kid sitting together at an outdoor table in front of Village Pizza, presumably when it is warm enough to do so. They are shaking hands and smiling. U.G. White’s is in the background, right as it has been for the last 100 years on the corner of Jefferson and Market Streets. However, in place of Terranova’s, which should be right next door, there is a Dollar General store. That feature was a little unusual, and we all chuckled. City Councilman Frank Travis walked in, and we went over all the details of the day, shown here on the flyer.
The march will form at 9 a.m. on the eastside courthouse steps, will go around the Square, and end in the Event Center, where the program will begin at 9:30. At 11, Sweet Home Church is going to have its annual MLK service, and Huntsville City School Board member Devyn Keith is going to preach. Devyn is the youngest person ever to have been elected to the school board, and is a Sparkman High School graduate. He is 27, and by his own admission, for a while was a “bad kid.” But the “village” helped raise this kid who went on to Samford and then got his master’s from the University of Massachusetts. Devyn understands the power of fathers, if only because he didn’t meet his own dad until he was a teenager, and sorely felt his absence. He is grateful for every man and woman who invested in his life and helped him get straightened out. In this time of emphasizing the impact that Dr. King’s life had on kids, I think he’ll have a message that is more than timely, and no doubt powerful. The mayor invites all of Athens to come and celebrate.
There was much to talk about on a number of fronts—businesses, changes in leadership, the government shutdown, but we were running out of time, and the most important thing left was to pray. So we did, and then like always, it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner