Martin Luther King Jr. Day was important to guest speaker Tamera Nalls for several reasons, she said at the annual East Cleburne Community Center Luncheon on Monday.
Monday celebrated what would have been the civil rights leader’s 84th birthday as well as the second term inauguration of the first African-American president. The day also represented a fresh start to teach local youth about reaching their potential, Nalls said.
“When I read your theme, it was very profound,” she told the crowd. “‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’... Although we have a dream, although we have a vision, when we come together as leaders, none of that matters if we don’t have a plan to come back and touch our next generation.”
Nalls, who is completing the theological program at the Howard Thurman Bible Institute in Dallas, has been a minister for more than 25 years. She is the founder and CEO of Journey of a Young Lady, Inc., a leadership organization that provides innovative leadership opportunities in communities.
Nalls urged adults in attendance to focus on determining and nurturing the natural talents of their children, and help then “spread their wings.”
“As we look at our own children, sometimes we don’t see their gifts, skills and talents,” Nalls said. “My son used to play with sticks. So we bought him this little drum set at age 2. By 5, he was playing drums in the church.
“You elders are in a position to mentor children. Provide opportunities to kids so that when they get to college they are expanding what they already know to be true about themselves. I pray that I’ve impacted you in some sort of way to turn back and pass that baton.”
Alvarado Junior High School student Abbie Hardy said the presentation inspired her to work harder at school as well as start volunteering in her community.
“I pray that she becomes that eagle,” her mother, Laura Hardy, said with a smile.
Also during the luncheon, Cleburne council member John Warren presented Mattie Barrett with a plaque commemorating the renaming of the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center computer lab in honor of the late D.L. Barrett, who founded East Cleburne Community Center.
“It was his [D.L. Barrett’s] dream and vision to have a recreation center for the youth of the east side of Cleburne,” Warren said. “He and others joined together to form the East Cleburne Community Center.
“It is because of his vision and purpose that those walls stand today.”
A wall plaque that will stay at Booker T. Washington was also on display.
Former Johnson County Commissioner R.C. McFall served as master of ceremonies. The Rev. David Baldwin Sr. provided the invocation. Dexter Baldwin sang the national anthem, followed by Angela Christian who sang the “National Negro Anthem.”
The Rev. Kirklin Cross provided the music and benediction.