Speaker: MLK celebrations need meaning

Hundreds turn out for sold-out Springfield event.


Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday is a time to celebrate but also a time to rethink democracy, according to a former city staff manager.

Selena Singletary, the former Director of Human Relations, Housing and Neighborhood Services who worked for the city for 31 years, offered the keynote speaker to 275 people at the 31st annual MLK Jr. commemoration, held Friday at Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center.

Singletary, a Wittenberg University graduate, retired in 2006. During her tenure, Singletary helped create programs such as Minority Business Development, neighborhood programs, Fair Housing, Mediation and Housing Rehabilitation.

For over 20 years, Singletary has served on the board of the national Paul J. Aicher Foundation, also known as Everyday Democracy, which promotes study circles to talk about race and later 9-11. These talks led to CultureFest and to the creation of the city’s Global Education and Peace Network.

Singletary said King’s birthday is a reason to celebrate but should also have a purpose.

“There’s still work to be done,” Singletary said. “The celebration must have some meaning.”

Last year, Singletary volunteered to register voters. She was surprised at the number of people who weren’t excited about the election because they felt legislators weren’t aware of their needs.

“I wondered: Is there a feeling of disconnect?” Singletary asked.

At a later Everyday Democracy meeting, Singletary said they spoke of topics like compulsory voting and civic engagement and education among youth as ways to spark interest among voters.

“There is a need to rethink democracy and re-imagine democracy as self-governance rather than self-government,” Singletary said.

She mentioned the Civil Rights Movement’s Montgomery Bus Boycott as an example of the value of mass meetings of individuals, which Dr. King recognized as an important part of society.

She urged participation in study circles and volunteerism in organizations to help produce meaningful change.

“Let us not only celebrate the birth of Dr. King, let us work to assure that his dream and legacy lives on,” Singletary said.

Clark State Community College President Dr. Karen Rafinski, who will retire this summer, was awarded the MLK Leadership Award.

The SonShine Club, an after-school program designed to bring the message of Jesus to elementary school students, was awarded the Outstanding Creative Youth Programming Award. The program was created by Urban Light Ministries’ Dr. Eli Williams 20 years ago and now has after-school groups at 12 local schools led by volunteers from churches and the Salvation Army.

The program was presented by the city’s Human Relations Board and Clark State.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76
Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76

Jim Rodford, bassist for popular rock band The Kinks from 1978 to 1996, has died at 76, according to the band. The Kinks, whose hits include “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Victoria” and “Waterloo Sunset,” made the announcement...
Three people hit by train since its debut last week
Three people hit by train since its debut last week

For the third time in the week since the Brightline train started its service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, a person has been hit by the passenger train, according to Fort Lauderdale police. Detective Tracy Figone, public information officer for the police department, said a pedestrian attempted to cross the train tracks at Northeast Third...
Florida group raffles off rifle to benefit children's program
Florida group raffles off rifle to benefit children's program

An assault rifle is a prize in a raffle to raise money for programs to help disadvantaged children. Channel 9 found out that phone calls to buy tickets for the raffle go to three Central Florida county jails. The flyer advertising the raffle was created by the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency. It advertises a chance to win an AR-15 rifle. There...
Researchers find meteorites from Michigan meteor
Researchers find meteorites from Michigan meteor

Researchers with the American Meteor Society found two meteorites just days after a meteor lit up the sky across part of Michigan, according to a tweet from AMS. “We are happy and excited to report, two meteorites from the Jan. 16th fall have been found in Michigan,” the Thursday tweet said. “Congratulations to Robert Ward and Larry...
For the love of all things gooey: It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day
For the love of all things gooey: It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day

Cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Parmesan: the list of cheeses people enjoy around the world goes on and on. January 20th, National Cheese Lover’s Day, is the day set aside to celebrate them all. There’s plenty of cheese lovers across the country who are no doubt enjoying their favorite variety on everything from crackers to pizza. But how much...
More Stories