CHIPLEY - A community event drew a crowd from Washington, Holmes, and surrounding counties to celebrate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a three-day celebration Saturday, Jan. 13 through Monday, Jan. 15.

This year marks the 89th birthday of the civil rights leader and the 50th anniversary of his assignation.

The celebration began with the MLK Banquet held Saturday at the Washington County Agricultural Center.

Washington County School Board member and noted local educator Dr. Lou Cleveland was the keynote speaker for the banquet.

Cleveland stated the celebration of Dr. King's life found her reflecting on what his dream meant to her personally, as well as the nation's education system.

"While Dr. King was leading the fight for equality in places like restaurants, and transportation, he must have known that the schools were the place where the most far reaching change could occur," said Cleveland. "It was in the schools that students would have equal educational opportunities, earn equal credentials to compete for jobs and equal pay, learn to understand and value each other, and celebrate their diversity."

With that in mind, Cleveland shared her experiences and insights from her more than 45-year career in education.

The celebration continued Sunday with the Community Gospel Extravaganza, which featured a welcome from Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews and guest speaker Archbishop Carl McComb of Daleville Christian Fellowship Worship Center.

The three-day celebration culminated on Dr. King's birthday Monday, with a parade, followed by the MLK Commemorative Service.

Vernon High School graduate and current Georgia State Senator Tonya Peterson Anderson (D-Lithonia) spoke of how this year's national theme, "Forward together, we win for humanity" reflected progression in unity to keep Dr. King's dream of equality for all alive.

The event also saw awards given for the MLK Speech Contest, as well as a special recognition for beloved Washington County educator, the late Daragh Reed-Gray, who passed away in November.