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Posted: January 20, 2009 10:30 p.m.

Social Circle celebrates Martin Luther King Day

"I still have a dream…"

The words echoed off the walls of the Social Circle Middle School/High School auditorium Friday afternoon

"It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream…"

The speaker, the Rev. David L. Roy, stood out against the crimson stage curtains in his camel-colored suit as the prophetic words that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial more than 40 years ago came from his lips.

"I have a dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

More than 300 middle school students sat in quiet attention. Their lives, they were being told, were the fruit of that dream. For many, it was the first time they had heard the speech aloud, in its entirety.

Zuntavious Goodwin, 13, a seventh-grader, listened with his chin on his hands. "It was pretty good," he said simply.

"It was different," agreed seventh grader Lauren Kuhn. "I’ve never heard it before."

Roman Barber, 13, said he enjoyed the speech but appreciated its brevity. "I liked that this was shorter than most" assemblies, he said.

Though the Social Circle Historical Society had reenacted the speech before at its annual community-wide King celebration, this is the first year to present it the students.

"The Historical Society thought it would be a good idea to bring it into the schools to keep the racial harmony," said Larry Knox, past president of the Society.

Bob Bailes, current president of the Society, said next year they would also provide a history lesson along with the speech because many students did not realize the speech’s context and exactly what segregation meant.

On Sunday, the Mars Hill Baptist Church welcomed about 80 people, some of whom had vivid memories of the civil rights era, to the seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" Celebration by the Social Circle Historical Society.

In an event that was part church service and part community celebration, the audience heard from singers, saw a dance performance and poetry recitation, and heard Greg Halleck speak on growing up white in the South and his memories of being transfixed watching King on television.

Roy, a former pastor at Mars Hill and founder of New Creation in Christ Baptist Church of Ellenwood, gave a rousing rendition of the iconic speech to a standing ovation.

"We still need that speech," he said, "Even though we won that election… Dr. King said we’ve got some difficult days ahead."

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