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The Newton County community gathered at the Porter Memorial Auditorium Sunday to celebrate, for the 28th time locally, the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We could never capture with words all that this iconic man of peace accomplished in his inspirational life, a life that was cut short before it’s time. He was truly ranks among the greatest leaders in our country’s history.

The community gathered to sing, pray and listen intently to the message of state Rep. Pam Dickerson and several other speakers. Then two of our own finest community leaders were honored for their lifetimes of service.

Bea Jackson, the driving force behind the Washington Street Community Center, was awarded the "I Have a Dream Award," a fitting recognition for a woman who every day works hard to make sure the dreams of the youth of Newton County come true.

Richard Johnson, a tall, strong man with a big heart, — who had the courage as a young man to stand up to a culture that fought fair change tooth and nail — helped make Newton County a better place for all who live here.

We congratulate the local MLK celebration committee on its two selections this year; your choice of Bea Jackson and Richard Johnson as award recipients is a testimony to the strong leadership we are blessed to have in Newton County.