Residents and political leaders packed Martin Luther King Jr. Park’s gym for the 36th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Monday, January 15.
The hour-and-a-half celebration featured music from vocalist Michael Ntwa Ydjumbwiths, the Carver Lyon Elementary School choir, and the Carver Lyon Elementary School bucket drummers.
Dr. Bobby Donaldson, associate professor of History and the director of the Center for Civil Rights History of Research at the University of South Carolina, was the keynote speaker.
During Dr. Donaldson’s speech he mentioned times when Dr. King visited South Carolina, including a meeting with I.S. Leevy and other organizers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the Township Auditorium in 1959. He also spoke of the significance of holding the celebration at that particular park, which former City of Columbia councilmembers E.W. Cromartie and Luther Battiste called for renaming it from Valley Park to Martin Luther King Jr. Park in 1988.
During the ceremony Reverend Dr. Aaron Bishop announced the results of the Honor the Dream Food Drive. Richland One Middle College took first place. Burnside Elementary finished second, while Pine Ridge Middle School came in third.
The city parks also participated. Martin Luther King Park collected the most food, with the Charles R. Drew Wellness Center coming in second and Greenview Park finishing third.
According to Bishop, 12,028 pounds of food was collected.
Kenya Bryant, with the City of Columbia, announced the results of the Dream Keeper program. The scholarship awards program recognized exemplary displays of committed service to the tenants of Dr. King, according to the city’s website.
Aidan Dong, a senior at Dreher High School, came in first place in the high school division. First place came with a $1,000 prize.
A.C. Flora’s Jordan Knapper received $500 for coming in second, while A.C. Flora’s Noah Kelson came in third, receiving $250.
In the middle school division, Hand Middle School’s Chloe Singleton came in first, with a prize of $250. Mika’lah Tilley, also from Hand, finished second and was awarded $175. W.A. Perry Middle School’s Miyah McDade came in third with a prize of $100.
In the elementary division, Marley Green, of John P. Thompson Elementary School, came in first for a prize of $100. Dylan Nance of Carver-Lyon Elementary School finished second and collected a $75 prize. Layla Overton was third with a $50 prize.