By Scott Levine
The power of youth became an overriding theme during Sunday’s Martin Luther King celebration in Clinton.
The first Little Peace and Justice award acknowledged a local youth group and featured speaker D’Army Bailey addressed his message for the younger generation during the annual event at Clinton Community College.
“It’s important for young people to understand...that there’s been enormous strides against extreme odds,” said Bailey, a retired judge and attorney, author, civil rights activist and actor.
Bailey spoke to the dozens in attendance about his struggles growing up in the Deep South during the 1950s and 1960s.
What he learned during that time period was that age didn’t matter when dealing with the realities of his era.
“What I learned as a kid growing up, was reading about other kids my age,” Bailey said.
Instances involving high school and college-aged students standing up against the government, police and other factions, even within his own race, shaped Bailey’s activism, which ultimately led to being a city councilman in Berkeley, Calif., a founder of the National Civil Rights Museum and roles in multiple films, including the “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”
Before Bailey delivered his speech, the Martin Luther King Jr. committee handed out the first Little Peace and Justice award to the YWCA youth group. Youth Director Janna Linville accepted the award for the group, which took the nomination process as a chance to write letters about “good friends.”
“The project was to recognize the good friends we have in this school,” Linville said.
Dina White earned the 11th annual Peace and Justice award during the ceremony. She was nominated for her role with the Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center, among other volunteering she does in the community.
This is the 25th year of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Clinton, which annually marks the impact King had on America.