PICKENS COUNTY—Pickens County residents gathered at the court house in Pickens for a message of unity and equality celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday morning.
The seventh annual event, hosted jointly by Pickens Presbyterian Church and Griffin Ebenezer Baptist Church, featured speeches from Mayor David Owens and Sheriff Rick Clark, singing and the reciting of Dr. Kings “I have a dream” speech.
“To me, this day represents unity and equality,” Pickens Mayor David Owens said. “That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. fought for. Equality for everyone.”
The event began with a walk from the Presbyterian Church to the court house steps at 10 a.m. Celebrations then continued downtown until about 11 p.m.
“We are all equal, and we all deserve the same opportunities,” Owens said. “I will stand up for anyone in this community, just like they would do for me. We’re brothers and sisters. That’s just the way I feel.”
City councilmembers expressed excitement for the day.
“It’s just unbelievably real to see the whole community together,” Pickens Councilman Carlton Holley said. “It’s the way it should be. Black, white and Hispanic (ethnicities) should be able to work together, not only today, but every day.”
Holley, who has spent 50 years in Pickens County, says he can remember a time when unity and equality were not the message.
“It means a lot to have unity and equality,” Holley said. “There were a few times as a little boy where I couldn’t go in some of these doors on Main Street, and now I can. It means a lot.”
Holley said growing up in Pickens, however, was a little different.
“It has really been good,” Holley said. “As a little boy, I didn’t realize that we were growing up in a society that was prejudice because I was always treated fair. Pickens is a good place to live and a good place to raise a family and it’s only getting better.”
Owens said it was a day for the community to get together, and it needs to happen more often.
“It’s always a good time when everybody can come together,” Owens said. “Whether we’re different races or ethnic backgrounds, I think we need more unity. This needs to happen more than one time a year.”
Holley said he hopes one message was conveyed.
“I think people understand that we are all one and we need to live together in peace,” Holley said.