MLK honored at Fayetteville Street gathering

Jan. 18, 2014 @ 05:52 PM

As community members sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in the W.D. Hill Recreation Center gym, the cadence of the national black anthem echoed off the concrete walls, the words reflecting loyalty to a native land and to God.

About 50 people gathered to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the recreation center on Fayetteville Street Saturday afternoon, using the arts to express his historical impact on civil rights. African drummers, graphic designers and crafts projects filled the rooms.

W.D. Hill recreation specialist Roger Hill said this is his first year coordinating the MLK event and he wanted to make the day special, something that his community could cherish. Part of the afternoon was spent discussing MLK’s legacy and teaching the younger generation facts about the civil rights activist.

“Maybe one day we can put our phones down and all talk to each other again,” he said about inciting community discussion. “It’s become a lost art.”

He added he always wanted to work with children and serve as a role model in his community. Now here he is, six years into his job at the community center.

“The main thing I take away from Martin Luther King is to never give up your dreams,” Hill said.

In one of the recreation rooms, Langston Fuze, 39, had large panels of his art on display, from black and white ink drawings of DJs and emcees to graphic design pieces that showed the many faces of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

Fuze said this is his third year participating in the MLK community event in Durham, and he said MLK has taught him to be a catalyst for action.

“It’s action, whether it’s through words, whether it’s through marches, whether it’s being imprisoned for fighting for your right for free speech,” he said.

Anjanée Bell, artistic director and choreographer at Bellan Contemporary Dance Theatre in Durham, said she always loved the Sam Cooke song, “A Change is Gonna Come.” Her young dancers performed to the classic in front of an audience Saturday, leaping and twisting their arms to the civil rights anthem.

“It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.”

Bell said she’s trying to get her younger dancers to learn about the change MLK instilled in the country, even though some of her students may not be old enough to understand his historical footprints.

“They’re still a part of something bigger than themselves,” Bell said of her students. “I want everyone to be reminded that they’re a smaller piece of a bigger puzzle.”