This weekend’s celebration continues today-Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on what would have been his 90th birthday this year. This year’s events include:
- Sunday, Jan. 20: An Ecumenical Service at North Broad Church of God at 5 p.m. featuring Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley of Atlanta, along with the MLK Community Choir.
- Monday, Jan. 21: The annual Freedom March at 11 a.m. on Broad Street to the Rome City Auditorium (meet at 10:30 a.m. on Second Avenue). Featured speaker will be William Evans Jr., the mayor of Sparta, along with the MLK Community Choir. Lunch will be immediately following at the Rome Civic Center on Jackson Hill.
THIS YEAR’S GUESTS:
Mayor William Evans Jr. is the eldest of 12 children born to Minister Evelyn Hunt Evans and the late William Evans Sr. A graduate of Hancock Central High School and voted by his class as the most likely to succeed. He is a graduate of Savannah State University, where he received a degree in History and Political Science. During the 1970s, Evans was a part of the Civil Rights Movement in Hancock County and marched alongside Dr. John L. McCown. In 1973, Evans became the first black tax assessor/appraiser in Hancock County and the state of Georgia. In the school system of Hancock County from 1981 to 1993, Evans was a teacher, executive director of the Communities In Schools/Cities In School, athletic director, head girls basketball coach, varsity tennis coach and assistant principal.
In June 1992, he was elected the first black Mayor of Sparta (from 1992 to the present). Evans is married to the former Ms. Gwendolyn Sams of Cave Spring. He is the father of two daughters (Detra & Janel) and has seven grandchildren. Evans is a member of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and serves as chairman of the Deacon Board. Evans believes that we were placed on Earth to serve God, train and take care of the youth, look after the elderly, and to be a friend to everybody else.
The Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley is the former Pastor of the historic Providence Missionary Baptist Church of Atlanta, where he has served for nearly 25 years. At Providence, Rev. Durley worked to ensure that people with disabilities in the congregation are able to share their gifts, skills and abilities, resulting in a new system of supports for persons with autism and their families in the congregation and in the community.
Rev. Durley’s previous roles include Executive Director of the Head Start Program for Fulton and Douglas counties, Director of the Health Promotion Resource Center at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and founder of Perspectives International, a consortium of historically black colleges and universities.
In 2011, Rev. Durley was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame for his contributions during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Rev. Durley continues to serve as an outspoken advocate on a number of social justice issues and works diligently to understand the differences and similarities among people, cultures and beliefs.
Lisa J. Crawford is a speaker, author and helper. She is the owner of LJC Motivations, where people can obtain the tools needed to move forward in their personal life and business life.
Titled as the “Bounce Back Speaker,” she is a native of Chattanooga, where she is counselor and mentor. She obtained Volunteer of the Year from the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce for their “Get a Job” Education Initiative where she mentored over 300 students. Her philosophy is based on the idea that an inspired heart and mindset is the key to a well-balanced personal and business life.
She is a certified Purpose Discovery Coach, with a corporate background in Hospitality Management, as well as, the author of four publications. The latest entitled “Silent Screams Releasing the Pain of Life’s Experiences Through the Healing Power of the Written Word (2017).”