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January 22, 2014

MLK event packs White Springs community center

Jasper — More than 100 people turned out for the 3rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and event in White Springs on Monday, Jan. 20.

In Mayor Helen Miller’s opening remarks, she said, “We’re thrilled to have everybody here and I think every year this event grows larger and larger, as we come together to celebrate something truly wonderful for our nation and our community. Dr. King will always be a role model for all of us. His courage, his perseverance and his commitment to doing the right thing no matter the obstacles.”

Rev. Fred Scippio from Sweet Home Baptist Church provided the invocation, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Johnny Bullard.

The Sunrise Community Choir, accompanied on piano by Ms. Earnestine, sang “We Shall Overcome”

As in past years, the students at South Hamilton Elementary were asked to participate in a contest with the younger students submitting colored drawings of Dr. King and the older students submitting written essays. The essay assignment was for the students to write about someone they know who reflects the best characteristics of Dr. King.

There were blue ribbons for all the winners and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of the essay contest received monetary gift cards.

“For the writing contest, the first place winner wrote a very moving tribute,” said Miller. “She wrote about her friend who passed away last year from a gunshot accident. The writer talked about how good her friend was, how he looked after others, stood up for what was right, and that he had a profound impact on her and other kids. The writer is Azaria Thompkins.”

The Sunrise Choir sang another selection, “Down by the Riverside”, which lifted everyone’s spirits with a lot of “Amens” all around.

This year two Beautiful Dreamer awards were given out to local citizens, one of them posthumously to Jake Coleman Bradley. His award was accepted by his wife Eleanor (Lumpkin) Bradley.

Bradley, who was born in Lake City, moved to White Springs in 1976. He attended Florida A&M University and played on the “Blood, Sweat and Tears” football team. He and the team won two national championships. While at FAMU he was selected as All American football player and then he was drafted into the NFL and played for the Chicago Cardinals. He went on to have a successful 34 year coaching career in Bradford and Columbia counties. He was also the first director for the summer program at the Old Carver School in White Springs.

He was a pillar of the White Springs community and at one time served on the town council. He devoted his life to his wife, his five children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The second Beautiful Dreamer award was given to Dorothy L. Bryant, an educator and community leader, as well as a loving wife and mother.

Bryant also attended FAMU and received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics education, a certification in English and a master’s degree in guidance. She served on the Suwannee Valley 4 C’s board of directors and also as chair of the South Hamilton Elementary School Advisory Council, as well as devoted 49 years to the Hamilton County School District in a variety of positions. Bryant was selected as teacher of the year in 1995 and 2000.

She is married to Sammy G. Bryant and has two sons.

After Bryant accepted her award, she asked all in the audience who came under her instruction to please stand up. More than half the people in the room rose to their feet.

Johnny Bullard then sang “Beautiful Dreamer” a cappella and received a generous ovation.

One of the highlights of the day was when Sista Hattie Mae Jankins (Letitia Bristol) arrived to engage the audience in some irreverent humor. Ever the comedic storyteller, Jankins had the entire audience in stitches.

Sabrina Marshall has been married to her husband Richard for 24 years and she had the honor of introducing him as the guest speaker. The Marshall’s, who have four children, have been operating an assisted living facility in Jennings for the last 10 years. Richard Marshall is also on the White Springs Town Council and is the pastor of Cornerstone Apostolic Outreach Ministry in Lake City.

“He is such a wonderful man of God,” his wife said. “I love him so much.”

When Richard Marshall got up to speak, he said he would ask that all his relatives stand up, “but the whole room could move.” He went on to give a moving speech in recognition of the day.

A large group of kids from New Jerusalem Baptist Church performed a praise dance to close out the ceremony called “Break Every Chain”, which was well received by the audience.

Many thanks to Linda and Charles White for the meal preparation, Mrs. Richard Tennis for the dessert cake, Rhonda Johnson for the elegant centerpiece decorations, and Anita Rivers for coordinating the event.

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