FAIRBORN — Genna Caldwell, senior pastor at Emmanuel Ministries in Fairborn, offered the invocation to kick off the proceedings of Fairborn’s virtual MLK Day celebration. In her comments, Caldwell set the tone for what would be a celebration led and exemplified by the city’s youngest.
“Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had many titles in his life. That of an activist, spokesperson and leader for the Civil Rights movement, a humanitarian, a husband, father, and son,” Caldwell said. “Yet, in spite of all these titles, Dr. King stayed humble and true to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Knowing who Dr. King was and what he valued: God, family, justice, equality and peace, I think he would say to us today: let us pray for our nation.”
As the country celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a variety of ways, Fairborn took to the internet to share – virtually – an inaugural event to celebrate the life and legacy of the Civil Rights leader.
Students at Fairborn City Schools, as well as the Fairborn City Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, formulated a livestream that aired on the city’s Facebook page the evening of the holiday.
“This is our first celebration in remembrance of this day,” said Clint Allen, Fairborn City Councilman. “We stitched all of those things together to share with the rest of the community.”
Students from Fairborn High School recited Dr. King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech, trading off the lines with the same passion and enthusiasm with which King himself would have delivered them. Students who participated in the MLK Day essay and video contests also showed off their work, the winners reading their essays on the livestream.
The high school level essay contest winners had a tie in first place between Emily Fasnacht and Fatima Abu, a tie in second place between Cal Fleming and Serenity Martinez, and Haley Miller in third place. For middle school, Syrena Cossin was awarded first place, with Abby Houser in second. The essay contest winners are, at the intermediate level, Trent Davidson in first place, Mansour Bader in second, and Mason Gilliam in third.
Winning video submissions for high school are Emily Fasnacht in first place and Autumn Wallace in second. In the intermediate school category, Daija Wallace came in first place with a video collaboration.
In the art category, for painting or drawing, Nikolas Colvin tied with Lydia Szary for first place at the high school level. First place in middle school is Juell Henson, second place Ayasha Harris, and in third place Savana Harmon. In the intermediate school first place is Maryam Abu, second is Savannah Goodman, and third is Mason Gilliam.
When asked if the committee would continue this event in the future, Allen was optimistic, saying that the committee was hopeful for future proceedings as the pandemic may subside.
“This is the springboard for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to create this space where we can have conversations, to learn about each other, understand more, and see how we can make changes and adjustments. Hopefully this time next year, we’ll be able to actually meet and have a program. I’m so excited about the public seeing the hearts of these kids as they express themselves.”
As this is the celebration’s inaugural year, Allen says the committee was motivated by similar events taking place in Yellow Springs, and that such a celebration here in Fairborn is timely.
“Dr. King quoted one thing that stands out for me,” Allen said. “Which is, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’ Some may say ‘What took Fairborn so long to put something like this together?’ But the committee decided now was the time to celebrate.”
In his comments during the livestream, Allen posed a question to the audience.
“The task before us is this: how can we raise our consciousness to oneness with all people?” Allen asked.
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.