WELLSVILLE-Evoking the "I Am A Man" placards worn by men during the civil rights movement, 6-year-old Xavier Pullie stood up Monday before a group of mostly adults and declared, "I am not a second-class citizen. I am Xavier Pullie."
Xavier's statement, received with cheers and applause, was the emotional high point of Wellsville's annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration on Monday.
Xavier was one of four children from Mount Sinai Fire Baptized Holiness Church who gave presentations on "Remembering Dr. King"-his cousins Colton Carter, 8, Indiah Pullie, 12, and Devonte Pullie, 17, all of Wellsville.
The Rev. Darlene Zanders, pastor of Mount Sinai Fire Baptized Holiness Church, listens to the Wellsville High School Ebony and Ivory vocal ensemble during Monday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
"The youth speak. We believe there are dreams in every young child," Indiah said to a crowded Village Council chambers in the Wellsville Municipal Building. "We are the generation of a dream translated into reality. We are the sons and daughters of a movement. The children of a mountaintop."
The East Liverpool area's observance of King Day began with a march from Second Baptist Church, 878 State St., to the Point of Light, which was organized by the East Liverpool-Wellsville NAACP. Festivities continued with the Wellsville event, emceed by the Rev. Darlene Zanders, Mount Sinai pastor.
"We have a lot to be thankful for 'cause (King) did a lot to help us ... go further in the movement of civil rights," Zanders said.
Keynote speaker was Deaconess Tina Smith of First Baptist Church in Wellsville, who exhorted the King Day participants to take pride in the village and its accomplishments.
"We're not so bad," she said. "We have something special that a lot of people don't have. ... We look out for each other-that's Wellsville. Wellsville's a place that pulls together."
In keeping with her theme of "Where Do We Go From Here?" Smith gave four suggestions: Pray for and support the Wellsville Ministerial Alliance; work with Mayor Susan Haugh and the Village Council; support the school system; and cooperate with law enforcement.
On the latter issue, Smith said, "We have to do more than pray. We have to put some legs on those prayers and do something. If we just watch, we are part of the problem."
The Wellsville event opened with "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The Ebony and Ivory vocal ensemble of Wellsville High School, under the direction of Aaron Bunfil, sang the Paul McCartney-Stevie Wonder song "Ebony and Ivory" and the sacred choral work "Pie Jesu."
The First Baptist Church mime team-comprising Demontre Coles, 16, Maria Miller, 15, and Kalysta Greene, 18, all of East Liverpool-did a dramatization of the gospel song "Break Every Chain."
Second Baptist members Zoe Brooks, 16, and Nikyah Beckwith, 13, both of East Liverpool, sang the song "I'm Free."
Dr. Patti Swartz, assistant English professor at Kent State University-East Liverpool, announced this year's winners of the Coretta Scott King Art Award. Judges were Alonzo and Rosalie Spencer, of East Liverpool.
Rogers Elementary School (Beaver Local):
* Shanea Davis (first place)
* Alex Stearns (second place)
* Emily Safora (third place)
* Lylah Brown (honorable mention)
* Joey Biser (honorable mention)
* Jessica Stoneburner (honorable mention)
* McKinna Jordan (honorable mention)
Garfield Elementary School (Wellsville):
* Olivia Kerns (first place)
* Mikala Merriman (second place)
* Madison Reed (third place)
* Eddie Stock (honorable mention)
* Kylee Channles (honorable mention)
* Cameron Slone (honorable mention)
* Kayla Morgan (honorable mention)
* Connor Hooper (honorable mention)