Dublin Villager

Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

Students encourage change and action

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Students called for change as Dublin celebrated the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week.

At Dublin's annual remembrance celebration in the Abbey Theater Monday, Jan. 20, student speakers encouraged change and action that would continue the work of the civil rights leader.

Each Dublin high school picked students to speak at the event and Scioto High School sophomore Nykee Scruggs asked audience members to continue working together for peace in her variation on King's I Have a Dream speech.

Jerome High School senior Olivia Turk pondered what King's dream would look like today and asked people to work on creating economic equality and "narrow the gaps between the haves and have-nots."

Coffman High School senior Kwabena Amponsah said people should continue working to make connections between cultures as King did.

"Dr. King was a builder of bridges, the ultimate bridge-builder," he said.

Thomas Solomon, another Coffman senior, looked at problems such as poverty, racial profiling and educational funding that stand in the way of achieving King's dream.

"We must not put away our marching shoes because the steepest hill awaits us," he told the audience in the crowded Abbey Theater.

The event also honored a Dublin man who brought the annual Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance to the city.

Joe Neidhardt was posthumously awarded the first Drum Major Award for starting Dublin's Martin Luther King Jr. event.

His son, Neil Neidhardt, said his father saw an injustice that Dublin had no event to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Joe Neidhardt looked at the world and saw the hand of God everywhere," he said.

"He had a heart to serve those less fortunate," said Cynthia White, a member of the event's organizing committee.

The annual remembrance also featured performances by the Coffman High School Gospel Choir and Rocks Squad, a new stomp/dance group, among others.

After the ceremony, community members gathered to serve as part of the National Day of Service.

Dublin resident Joyce Zawaly led volunteers in making blankets that will be given to patients of Columbus Oncology. The cancer survivor and former Dublin City Schools teacher created the group "I've Been in Your Chair" about six years ago and said close to 1,000 blankets have been distributed to cancer patients so far.

The city donated supplies to make about 30 blankets, Zawaly said.

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