The City of Springfield’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration focused on how Springfield residents can build better communities and lend their voices to America’s democratic process while recognizing those who are already effecting positive change in the community.
During the luncheon, Dayton Human Relations Council Executive Director Catherine Crosby spoke to the current political climate, explaining how Springfield can continue to realize the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. Crosby told attendees that if they don’t like the current regime, they need to step up and change it themselves, starting with community involvement.
“Democracy only works when we all participate,” she said. “That means coming to the meeting and lending your voice. That’s where decisions get made.”
Crosby compared the present day to the Civil Rights Movement: change happens if you’re involved from start to finish. That means voting for mayors and school boards, not just presidents. If you don’t involve yourself in molding the kind of country you want to live in, you’re doing harm to others, not just yourself, she said.
“You do the next generation a disservice,” Crosby said.
But effecting positive change isn’t just political action: Crosby noted that building strong moral values within communities is imperative to creating a stronger nation.
“That means when a young person is acting like a fool, the village steps in,” Crosby said. “Sometimes the parents don’t step up to the responsibility. You can make a difference in the community, serving as positive role models so our young people can dream.”
Building a moral foundation is key to a flourishing democracy where everyone can enjoy their rights, Crosby said.
“In many of our communities, we have decided to check out and accept violence and accept poverty,” she said. “So then democracy doesn’t work for us.”
Crosby finished by reminding attendees that the democratic process in our country works, but if you want your voice to be heard, you need to find a place to speak it.
After Crosby’s speech, Director of Community Outreach Corey Holliday recognized 12 high school students with Peacemaker Awards, including:
- Connor Impson of Catholic Central
- Aubrey Landess of Emmanuel Christian
- Bethany Lenz of Global Impact STEM Academy
- Arian McNiel of Greenon
- Shelby Smith of Kenton Ridge
- Cooper Haack of Northeastern
- Angelo Miller of Northwestern
- Shawn Daniel of Shawnee
- Leah Ruby of Southeastern
- Alexis Kinder of Springfield Clark CTC
- Braden Parker of Springfield High School
- Karli Mulkey of Tecumseh
Springfield Minority Business Development Coordinator Cheryl Dover also presented Every-Day Edibles with the Outstanding Historically Disadvantaged Business Award, a new feature at the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration this year. To conclude the program, Springfield City Schools Director of Assessments Paul Schneider presented On-The-Rise with the Outstanding Creative Youth Programming Award.
“It’s a good time for everyone to get together and look at each other and love each other after a very tumultuous political season,” said Dover, who organized the event. “It’s a chance for everyone to enjoy each other.”
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