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Carver Center honors community members at annual MLK Prayer Breakfast

Hannah Swayze • Jan 20, 2019 at 12:00 AM

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached a message of unity, justice and non-violence until his death in 1968. This weekend, more than 50 years later, the Johnson City community honors his legacy.

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church’s celebration center filled with almost 200 people Saturday morning for the Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, to celebrate the civil rights icon’s life and to honor members of the community.

“We recognize people who never get talked about, and they put time, effort and resources into the people in Johnson City and the community,” said Herb Greenlee, supervisor of the Carver Recreation Center.

Honorees recognized at the prayer breakfast this year included:

• The Rev. Vincent M. Dial, senior pastor of Bethel Christian Church, who has served the community for numerous years through education, contributions to civic organizations and community service;

• Mary Dial, a retired teacher who taught in the Johnson City School system for 40 years, dedicating her life to students in grades two through six;

• Donnie Emory Hamilton Sr., a former Johnson City Transit operations supervisor, who handled school bus safety training, route development and bus discipline;

• Terry L. Phillips Sr., past pastor of Victory Tabernacle in Johnson City, who will retire from Johnson City Transit this year after working as the supervisor of student transit for just over a decade, and;

• Charles H. Charlton, retired pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, former educator, Johnson City commissioner and vice mayor. 

There was also a special video tribute to the late Ralph Van Brocklin, former mayor of Johnson City.

“Dr. King wanted people to be able to sit down and talk affirmatively about the issues that we face in a non-violent way, but that you had to speak up and that your voice had to be heard. And that was one of the things Ralph really represented in this community. He listened to everyone, he formulated his ideas and he acted on it,” said Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock. 

The keynote speaker of the event was Johnnie Turner, former state representative of Tennessee’s 85th district and past executive director of the Memphis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and who marched along with King during the civil rights movement. 

Previously hosted by the Langston Heritage Group, the event was handed off to the Carver Recreation Center. The proceeds from the event now go to the Carver Youth Historical Field Trip committee, which pays for children in the Carver Youth program and their parents to go on educational trips at no cost to the families.

The field trips have previously included trips to Washington, D.C., to tour the Capitol and its museums. This year’s trip will be to Memphis to see the Civil Rights Museum.

Several Carver Recreation Center events are planned for Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Martin Luther King Jr. Story Time will teach children about the famous civil rights leader with music, stories, and crafts at this free event with assistance from the ETSU Office of Multicultural Affairs. 

Noon to 6 p.m.: The NAACP will hold a blood drive until 6 p.m. 

6 to 8 p.m.: At the Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner, the community is invited to celebrate the life of King. The Rev. Ernest Widby of New Zion Faith Center will speak. Members of the community will be recognized and Bill Adams will be inducted into the Carver Hall of Fame.

For more information about events during Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend at the Carver Recreation Center, call 423-461-8830.

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