Councilwoman Patsy Jones receives Dream Achiever award as part of 2015 Martin Luther King Jr., Day observance
By Anna-Claire Terry
Residents of Opelika and surrounding areas packed out the Opelika High School auditorium Jan. 19 for the Martin Luther King Jr., observance program, “The March.” The program was presented by The Dream Foundation, partnered with McDonalds of Opelika, Auburn and Tuskegee.
A play and musical skits were performed by children ranging from elementary to high school ages.
Christopher Floyd II, an 8-year-old participating in the program, wore his great-great-grandfather’s mug shot from the 60s around his neck. Christopher’s grandfather gave rides to people who were participating in the bus boycott and had no way of getting around; his great-great-grandmother participated in the march from Selma to Montgomery. According to Christopher, his grandparents are the reason he wanted to participate in The Dream Day Foundation’s program.
Marion Sankey has been in charge of the program for 16 years. Sankey said it takes several months of practice, coordinating and planning to produce the one-hour program.
“It means a lot to me to get to do this. Every year has been special,” Sankey said.
This year, however, was even more special, because the march from Selma to Montgomery was commemorated.
According to Sankey, the program has a different theme every year that emphasizes certain aspects of King Jr.’s life.
“We always promote peace and nonviolence. That’s just what we do,” Sankey said.
The Dream Day Community Service Award was presented to Barbara Hill Pitts. Pitts was recognized for her work in voter registration since 1965 and her passion for making sure everyone exercises their right to vote. She was referred to as the “Queen of Voter Registration.”
“It is important that out children know our history and feel inspired to continue paving the way,” Pitts said.
The Dream Day Foundation Scholarship was awarded to three students this year. Tyree Allen, Devin Willis and James Ruffin were chosen for their service to others and for exemplifying what MLK stood for.
Ruffin has been involved with the program for all of his high school years and had the opportunity to read some of King Jr.’s speech in the program this year.
“It means the world to me to get to do this. I have been blessed with this opportunity,” Ruffin said. “I love it. I mean I truly love it.”
Patsy Jones was the recipient of the 2015 Dream Achiever Award for her service to the city of Opelika, its children, its elderly and anyone in need. Jones was the first African-American woman to be elected to the Opelika City Council in 1995. This year marks her 20th year to serve on the city council. She has served five consecutive terms, and she is the longest reigning councilperson of the city of Opelika.
“I am definitely a direct recipient of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was all about,” Jones said.