Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

The sanctuary of First United Methodist Church was full on Sunday afternoon in honor of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Each year, the Human Relations Council sponsors the event, which featured music, guest speakers, and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“As mayor, I get to take part in many celebrations, ribbon cuttings and other town events, but by far the one that means the most to me is giving this welcome to those of you here today,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott who offered welcoming remarks. “We should always remember the sacrifices so many people made to bring about these dreams for America.”

Franklin native Regina Duke addressed the crowd before singing, sharing what the day means to her.

“He would be with us leading the charge, to facilitate us embracing and exercising our freedom, to encourage us and to inspire us, but his work is done,” said Duke. “We are bound to carry the torch of freedom forward and shine his light for all to see and follow to a brighter path of opportunity in a country that exemplifies what freedom really is. I can hear Martin Luther King, Jr. saying if I could I would be right here with you on the street, this freedom journey.”

Students from the Job Corps as well as Rabun Gap School came together to recite “Let Freedom Ring” in their native languages. Students from Germany, America, Poland, and the Bahamas were among those who recited the event’s theme.

The keynote speaker was Rev. Charles H. Lee, pastor of the Liberty Baptist Church in Sylva. Rev. Lee is a graduate of University of North Carolina at Asheville, and he received further training at Fruitland Baptist Church and Liberty Bible College. His community affiliations include the Baptist Ministers’ Union, Christian United Communities and Each One Reach One in Asheville. He has served as the past president of the Jackson County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Lee’s speech was given from the pulpit and was centered around revelation and coming together in the spirit of King to enact change today.

Additional entertainment was provided by Ericka Washington and Michael Waters, who performed with students from Mountain View Intermediate and East Franklin Elementary schools. The Battle Hymn of Republic was performed by Rabun Gap Nacoochee School students Simon Park, Phoenix Tate, Christian Klunder, Muya Kahiga, Kacper Kuzimki and Harry Liu. A creative interpretive dance was performed by Rhonda Henderson. Mozart Moliere was on hand to recite King’s “I Have a Dream Speech, as he has done in the past.