Brookhaven, GA, January 16, 2017 – by Trey Benton – A crowd pushing 200 attended the City of Brookhaven’s second annual Martin Luther King, Jr. day celebration. The sold out event was held at the Lynwood Park Rec. Center. WSBTV’s Mark Winne served as emcee, a role he has played at a number of Brookhaven events.
Before City Councilwoman Linley Jones and City Manager Christian Sigman made opening remarks, Pastor Lee Sawyer said Grace. John Wesley Wright, Jr., a Captain with DeKalb Fire and Rescue Explorers spoke about his dream of becoming a Firefighter and gave thanks to those who are helping him pursue that dream.
Lynwood Historian Edgar Jones told the crowd the community’s story, sharing its beginnings, who some of the original residents were and where they came from. He told the story of the original people of Lynwood Park which was founded in the 1920’s mostly from families of sharecroppers.
Edna Patterson White, a former Lynwood Park School Administrative Assistant, recalled a time in her life when she would publish the teachers agendas on a manual typewriter and make copies on an old AB Dick mimeograph machine. She talked about the school’s PTA organization and how each month they were top rated in the County.
Antwan Callaway got the evening hopping by singing an inspirational song, and Rev. McClinton Broughton, a former Lynwood resident followed his performance and shared memories of his childhood and upbringing. Janice Chapman wowed the crowd with her beautiful and soulful voice and received a standing ovation.
Prior to the evenings keynote speaker, Dr. Melvin “Mel” Pender, taking the stage, Mayor John Ernst read Proclamations recognizing the impact of a small group of students from the Lynwood schools, who in 1968 bravely integrated the DeKalb County School System, entering previously all-white schools. Known as the ‘Lynwood Integrators’ this local group was involved front and center in one of the most important civil rights advancements in America’s history.
Mayor Ernst also delivered a Proclamation recognizing Dr. Pender who is a former Lynwood resident and Olympic champion. Delivering the uplifting story of his life and the lessons he learned along the way, Dr. Pender energized the crowd. He shared his experiences growing up during the Civil Rights era and reflected on life in the Lynwood Park area.
Pastor Reginald Williams delivered a prayer to close out the evening. Throughout the event EJ and the Versatiles provided the entertainment.
In attendance were dignitaries from the Georgia Legislature, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, the Brookhaven City Council, the DeKalb County School Board, DeKalb Fire Rescue and Brookhaven City Staff.
The event was presented and organized by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Photos of the event are below. (All images © Trey Benton) Click any photo to begin a slideshow.