Remembering MLK Jr.
Written by Vanessa Wilson
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community service that helps empower and strengthen communities globally. Americans of every age and background are charged to celebrate through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our ever-present national problems.
“I have a dream…” Those words were immortalized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he pronounced them on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Pine Forge Academy celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King during his birthday weekend with their involvement in multiple service projects, honoring the man who spurred so much change in the world of civil rights.
Sunday, January 17, the Pine Forge Academy choir under the directorship of Dr. Andrew Marshall participated in the special services in remembrance of Dr. King at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, PA where Rev. Roland H. Anderson, II is the shepherd. The choir’s Negro spiritual arrangement of We Shall Walk through the Valley in Peace gave a resounding ovation and shouts of praise as it was eloquently sung.
Monday, January 18, Andre McDonnell, Pine Forge Academy alumnus and brainchild-founder of It’s From The Sole, joined forces with faculty, students and Pine Forge Academy church members in a shoe and sock initiative geared for the homeless residents of the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) of Montgomery County in Norristown, PA. Students, faculty, church members and Andre McDonnell donated these goods in fulfillment to our church’s mission to feed, clothe, nurture and visit our brothers and sisters. As a result, over one hundred plus pairs of shoes and socks were apportioned to over sixty facility residents.
The Pine Forge Academy choir hit the road again on Monday, January 18, Philadelphia bound for their performance at the 31st Annual National Bell Ringing Ceremony held at the Liberty Bell Center. The event was organized by the Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence, Inc. The stellar rendition of the National Anthem gave rise to the seventy year old institution founded on principles of “EXCELLENCE.” Local and state officials, clergy, spectators and passersby marveled over the poise and voice training possessed by the student choir giving off sharp falsetto and crescendo harmonious tones. We applaud AEC President Fordham, executive member of the King Association for the invitation rendered. During the program’s intermission, Principal Hughes began networking with visiting organizations and was invited to deliver remarks on behalf of the Academy.
With effective, intentional planning, Pine Forge Academy aspires to partner with the Philadelphia Branch King Association to implement and later execute a Youth College Preparatory Program in the summer of 2017 at Pine Forge Academy. Details will be forthcoming following board approval and buy-in.
To culminate Dr. King’s weekend of celebratory historic markings, Pine Forge Academy choir and Creative Arts dramatization group were invited for the third consecutive year to the New Hanover United Methodist Church where they performed. The Boyertown Area Ministerial Association is the sponsor of this yearly community-wide event.
Alongside PFA’s choir and drama group performances, the Academy, standing on the shoulders of Headmistress Nicole Hughes, participated in a choral reading with Dr. Faidley, Superintendent of the Boyertown Area School District reflecting the life of the late Dr. King. Jason McCracken, who was among other school faculty, supported the program by an excerpt reading of a 1963 passage from Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled: “God Is Able.”
The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also led a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many people from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a people’s holiday. And it is the people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream. Thusly, the mingling exchanges taking place in that edifice was a replica of what Dr. King envisioned. Active engagement between the church youth and Pine Forge Academy in the stage drama, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” was a sight to behold. The most galvanizing aspect of the program itself was the combined choirs selection (Boyertown Area High School and the Pine Forge Academy Choir) directed by Dr. Andrew Marshall- Good News De Chariots Comin.
The grand finale, My Country Tis of Thee/We Shall Overcome Medley amplified the steeple-top Mega Church from the three-part harmony. The warm embraces and interlocking-raised hands of ethnic groups represented was an experience like no other bringing chills and tears to the eyes of program attendees. Because of this unforgettable occurrence, a united brother/sisterhood pact made us realize that we need each other. “Dr. King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live — creating a Beloved Community.
We commemorate Dr. King, the ecumenical leader and visionary who embraced the unity of all faiths in love and truth. Through King’s examples mirroring those of the Father, he taught the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined his character and empowered his leadership. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?” In the affirmative, Pine Forge Academy is committed to serving humanity with a vibrant spirit of unconditional love through the Greatest Example God has shown His children.