Remembering Coretta

King Celebration ends with tribute to King’s widow

Shayla C. Davis of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority delivers her speech to the audience during the “Remembering Coretta” tribute.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.

Coretta Scott King was honored and remembered with prayer, music, praise dancing, a tribute by her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sisters and a challenge to youth delivered by keynote speaker Shayla Davis.

More than 100 men, women and children attended "Remembering Coretta," an observance held as a part of King Celebration 2012 and sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida. It was held last Tuesday at the east campus of Spirit of Faith Christian Center.

Coretta Scott King, the beloved wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died on Jan. 30, 2006 at the age of 79.

Davis, a University of Florida student and member of the Iota Lambda chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., said Scott King demonstrated her commitment to her husband's mission by picking up and carrying the torch for equal rights.

Devon Vickers, also member of the Iota Lambda chapter of Alapha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., who presided over the event, called Scott King a woman of class, elegant and fashionable.

In her welcome and occasion remarks, Florida Bridgewater-Alford, president of the Mu Upsilon Omega chapter of AKA, offered a brief biography of Scott King. She said Scott King joined the NAACP before she married King, and throughout her life fought for equal rights.

"The struggle continues," said Bridgewater-Alford. "We have an opportunity to bring light to a dark place."

In keeping with the theme of the event, "Upward and Onward: Progressing Towards Her Vision," Davis challenged the youth to start with a dream, create a vision and end with a reality.

"Where do you fit?" Davis asked.

"Like Mrs. King, will you embody your own vision or simply rest upon the traditions that were created 50 years ago?" she asked.

"Now it's our time and our turn to unlock the door and walk across the threshold of opportunities, dreams and realities," she said.

"Your education is free, your community is here and your path is paved," she said.

"So ask yourself: Am I going to be a keeper of my own dream or allow my fear to prevent me from becoming all I envisioned?" Davis asked.

The invocation and benediction were delivered by the Rev. Kenneth Claytor, pastor of Spirit of Faith. Janice Nix-Crews, treasurer of the King Commission, recognized elected and appointed officials.

Tributes in dance were provided by Jamal Sowell, special assistant to University of Florida President Bernie Machen, and by the Mount Zura Full Gospel Baptist Church of Newberry. Scott King's elegance and grace were recognized in a performance by Courtney Gilmore, Justine Williams and Sitota Douglas, all members of the Iota Lambda chapter of AKA.

Musical selections were provided by the Martin Luther King Commission of Florida Community Choir and the Eastside High School Gospel Choir. A powerful rendition of "Lift Ev'ry Voice," the Negro National Anthem, was delivered by Karen Johnson, a member of Champion Ministries in northeast Gainesville. Sabine Justilien, a member of the Iota Lambda chapter of AKA, recited "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou, in memory of Yolanda King, the Kings' oldest daughter, who died in 2007.

In his closing remarks, Rodney J. Long, founder and president of the King Commission, said the purpose of the event was to celebrate Scott King, a great woman who was there by her husband through it all — the sleepless nights and the bomb threats.

"He wouldn't be an icon if he had been without Coretta," Long said.

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