By Cady Inabinett, Managing editor of content
Many gathered in Montevallo on Jan. 16 for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day March. The annual event hosted by the Shelby County NAACP started with a march down Main Street before congregating in Montevallo High School’s auditorium for a unity program.
During the program, Grand Marshal of the march Dr. Tracey Morant Adams delivered the event’s keynote address. Adams is the Southeastern Regional Director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and an University of Montevallo alum.
In her speech, titled “Why We Can’t Wait,” Adams emphasized the importance of working to promote positive societal changes—telling audience members that Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be used as a day of service, calling the holiday, “a day on, not a day off.”
Adams encouraged the audience to use their power to work towards a better future, saying, “Every day is a new opportunity to be who we are called to be. That is why we must not wait to step into that calling.”
According to Adams, historical and literary education are necessary to this progress and aid in avoiding repeating the past.
“It’s not enough to just know the truth, my friends, we must dare to share it. Dare to equip, empower and educate others, educate our youth, in preparation of their leading us as progressors and champions of change for the future,” she said.
Adams also told the audience, “We can’t wait to be change makers,” going on to say that compassion should compel them into working for change.
She tied working for change to the importance of being civilly engaged, saying that voting is a simple but powerful way to impact communities. Adams pointed out Shelby County’s ties to voting rights history as well, referring to Shelby County v. Holder, a Supreme Court case that undercut the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“The right to vote should not be controversial, but it is,” said Adams. “And that is why we cannot wait to practice it.”
Referencing King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Adams also encouraged the audience to be dreamers, saying, “A dream serves as an internal barometer that leads us forward to better times ahead, diligently directing our steps and guiding our actions.”
After her speech, Adams was presented with a medal and plaque in honor of her role as Grand Marshal of the day’s events.
In addition to Adams’s address, the event featured an address from Montevallo Mayor Rusty Nix—who pointed out the diversity of Montevallo’s community and city council. There were also two performances from a choir and a presentation of the history of the civil rights movement in Montevallo.
Event attendees cited various reasons for participation. Participant Menisia Parks pointed out that, while one reason she attended was because her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Inc., was participating, she also felt it was important to pay reverence to King’s impacts and to bring families together to participate.
“It’s important for the kids to get out and hear about it. Listen to it, know your history, so history doesn’t repeat itself,” she said.
Another participant, Jennifer Tidwell, said she was encouraged to participate while visiting Montevallo Presbyterian Church. She expressed that she thought it was important for different community organizations to participate in the unifying event, saying, “It’s who we are, it’s who we’re supposed to be. It’s who we’re supposed to be as a people.”
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.