Honoring King's dream


Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 12:49 a.m.

Some people might have thought they were in the wrong room when they walked in and saw a woman offering a Lakota Native American prayer at the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Monday night at the Hippodrome State Theatre.

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Janea Taylor, 11, of the Rhonda Wilson Star Center, performs a song from the movie "Mulan" on Monday at A Celebration of Unity.

(DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun)

But it made sense, given the name of the event - A Celebration of Unity.

Different cultures and ages came together to dance, sing and speak in appreciation of King's work for peace.

Anna Schwait, wearing a turquoise, yellow and red patterned skirt shook a wooden rattle as she called for wisdom from Lakota ancestors.

"We pray the lines of division are erased," Schwait said.

After the prayer, an African priestess dressed in a white gown shot through with threads of silver lit a candle as she asked for peace.

Three children dressed in glittering rainbow-hued garments circled Olapetun Orisatolu as she sprinkled water on the stage to salute her ancestors.

"We thank the ancestors who walk with all of us," said Orisatolu, her golden bracelets jingling as she held up her hands skyward.

Brian Reynold, a student at the Job Corps Center in Gainesville, read a poem he had written for Black History Month about freedom, receiving thunderous applause.

The diverse audience of about 100 then clapped along with a medley of songs about Martin Luther King Jr. sung by the Mary L. Jennings Young People's Division/Gainesville A.M.E. Church music group.

Excerpts of King's speeches were then read by Alvin Butler.

King said violence was impractical and immoral, said Butler, who works with young black students in Gainesville schools.

Violence is an endless downward spiral, Butler said, reading King's words.

Butler told the audience that King had said anyone can serve mankind.

" `Anyone can be great because anyone can serve,' " Butler said, quoting King.

Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@ gvillesun.com.

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