The memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated at the McLean Community Center Sunday afternoon with song, speeches and spiritual dances that brought a packed audience to its feet on more than one occasion.
“His voice filled a great void in the nation,” said Dr. Lois Wilson, master of ceremonies for the afternoon. “He was a global leader who inspired nonviolent liberations throughout the world, he was America’s greatest champion of racial harmony.”
“Martin Luther King often spoke of dreams as something more than that which occurs during sleep,” said Barbara Carter Wilks from the First Baptist Church of Chesterbrook, which was founded in the late 1800s by a freed slave. “It is our hope, on this occasion, that through the message of Dr. King, through the music we enjoy, the presentations we hear, the fellowship we share, that this dream will be embraced that existed long before Martin Luther King’s speech,” she said.
“His dream continues to be reachable and practical,” she said, followed by a chorus of applause.
Keynote speaker for the afternoon was Maxine B. Baker, president and CEO of Freddie Mac Foundation, who told the story of a young girl following King’s call for social service.
“I want to tell you the story of a young girl whose heart is so full of grace and love,” Baker said of Mackenzie Snyder, a 14-year-old from Maryland.
Baker said that Mackenzie, as a child of 7, saw something on television about foster children, numbering somewhere around 50,000 in the United States alone, who had to carry their belongings from foster home to foster home in garbage bags.
“Mackenzie, as a child, was so touched by this, that she decided she wanted to do something to help,” Baker said. So she started her own charity, Children to Children, which collects duffel bags and stuffed animals for foster children, so they always have something to carry their belongings in and a friend to carry with them.
“She wanted to give the children the continuity of knowing that someone loves and cares for them,” Baker said. Over 34,000 duffel bags have been collected in the past seven years, she said, along with letters and stuffed animals for foster children.
Share Inc. of McLean was also honored during the celebration for its continuing efforts to help those less fortunate in Northern Virginia. Baker presented a check for $2,500 to both organizations from the Freddie Mac Foundation “to allow these wonderful organizations to continue their good work.”
Throughout the celebration, the mass choir, consisting of members of the Shiloh and First Baptist Church choirs, performed heartfelt, uplifting spiritual songs, with audience members frequently calling out “Amen!” or adding their applause to the beautiful music, including powerful solos from coordinator Carolyn Pinkett Bush. There were two performances from the More & More Praise group, a liturgical praise group from Mount Olive Baptist Church.