CONYERS — Youth from across Rockdale County displayed their talents in honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday afternoon at the Rockdale Career Academy (RCA).

They took part in the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Event. The program was sponsored by Rockdale County and the Rockdale County School System.

The RCA auditorium was standing room only as musicians, dancers and actors performed in a show that highlighted Dr. King’s legacy and his impact on civil rights, past and present, with the theme being “This is America.”

Taking part in the program were Tori Graves of Conyers Middle School, Jenae’s Dance Experience, the Salem High School Chorus, Cardell Smart, MJ Dance, Zack and Destiny Cockrell, Ahmad Barron, Joi Nobles and Jamiliyah Ismaiel from Heritage High School, Grayson Cobb from Lorraine Elementary, the Rockdale County High School Band, and JDE Tappers. Atlanta. Students in the Heritage High School Visual Arts program also had their artwork on display in the lobby.

Atlanta visual artist and musician Sean Mulkey was a special guest and created a painting celebrating Dr. King during the program.

Jennifer Bellamy of 11Alive News in Atlanta was the emcee for the program, and Deacon Fred Johns of St. Pius X in Conyers gave the invocation and benediction.

Following the performances, Rockdale County Commission Chairman Oz Nesbitt Sr. presented special guest 4th District Congressman Hank Johnson with an Excellence in Public Service Award.

In accepting the award, Johnson stated that the nation is having a national emergency with 800,000 federal workers currently not being paid, and urged anyone who knows a federal worker to give them assistance as Dr. King would want.

“If you know someone, reach out to them,” said Johnson. “They may be too proud to ask for help, but you know that they are hurting, so please reach out to our neighbors and people who we know are having a problem with whatever assistance we can. That’s what neighbors do for neighbors. Dr. King would want us to respond to this national emergency in that way.”

Rockdale County School Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts and Board of Education Chairman Katrina Young presented BOE member Heather Duncan with the 2019 MLK Leadership Award for advocating for students, teachers and families in the community for the past 15 years.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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