Easton Remembers Martin Luther King
King day celebrations in Easton focus on the next generation.
Celebrations of Martin Luther King Monday in Easton focused as much on the future as they did the past.
At the Greater Shiloh Church, that meant turning over much of the annual King Day program to the church's Orators group, which encourages young people to be better public speakers.
Roy Shuler, who heads the program, says the Orators -- which originated in New Jersey in the 1980s -- began in part to combat the perception that young black people couldn't be competent public speakers.
"There are still people who think it's not supposed to be part of our heritage," Shuler told the congregation Monday.
So Shuler's kids talked about their heritage, using the words of black Americans like President Barack Obama -- his election night speech from 2008 -- and civil rights leader Adam Clayton Powell, to standing ovations from the audience.
The program also featured songs and invocations, as well as comments from local political leaders, including U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, who told the audience that King's dream lives more than 40 years after his death, but added "It's up to all of us to carry it forward."
Meanwhile, the Boys & Girls Club of Easton held its own King Day event at its South Side clubhouse.
Dean Young, the club's executive director, told visitors that King had wanted people to make an impact in their community, including making sure kids had a place to play.
The audience heard from alumni such as Tina Dowling-Hackett, who's now the club's program director. She told an emotional story about how the club helped her through a childhood in a dangerous neighborhood and a teenage pregnancy. By the time she talked about the birth of her daughter -- now a sophomore at East Stroudsburg University -- she was speaking through tears.
"Not tears of sorrow," she explained, "but tears of joy."