By Ashlee Hall, Lifestyles editor
Community members came together in Montevallo on Monday Jan. 15 to march in celebration and remembrance of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The 20th annual Unity March was hosted by the Shelby County branch of the NAACP. Representatives from Divine 9 organizations, community service groups and the Montevallo City Council were present to take part in the celebrations.
The NAACP is the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, and was formed in 1909 with the goal to advance justice for the African American community.
The march began on Main Street and ended at Montevallo High School, where there was a program to celebrate the work of King and the Civil Rights Movement.
During the program, guests were able to enjoy a musical performance by the Unity March Choir, a prayer by Rev. Kenneth Dukes and greetings from Montevallo mayor, Rusty Nix. Civil rights and defense attorney Ashley N. Bell served as Grand Marshall for the march and was the guest speaker.
Bell is a Mobile, Ala. native but now resides in Shelby County, where she founded A. Bell Law Firm, LLC., and is serving as the Municipal Court Judge. She is the Democratic nominee for Shelby County District Court Judge, Place 2, the criminal division, making her the first African American to run for judgeship in the county.
The theme of the event was “Living the Dream: It starts with Me- Spreading Hope, Courage, and Unity.” Bell spoke about her journey to becoming a lawyer and the trials she faced in the process. She believes in encouraging our youth “because they are the future.” Bell offered a theme of encouragement for the next generation to not give up on their dreams.
“We have to be tenacious about our dreams and aspirations,” said Bell.
Bell commemorated Dr. King on his dedication to ending racial segregation and discrimination during the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King’s service to his community inspired Bell to pursue a career where she would be able to initiate change and social justice.
“We are our ancestors’ wildest dreams, we have to keep moving,” said Bell.
Another theme of the program was encouraging voter registration and making your voice heard in your community. Tables were set up outside the event with resources to help people register to vote or gain their voting rights back.
To close out the program, there was an award ceremony to recognize the different organizations and community members for their service to different causes. Awards were presented for different events held throughout the county and money raised for various causes and program initiatives.
One of the main pillars of the Divine 9 organizations and the NAACP is serving their communities. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., collected food during the program as a part of their target for their 2022-2026 administration. The bags of food will be donated to local daycares and schools for students who struggle with food insecurity.
Ashlee Hall is the lifestyles editor for The Alabamian. She is majoring in mass communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism with minors in public relations, social media administration and food and nutrition sciences. In her free time, she enjoys reading “Southern Living Magazine,” curling her hair and making niche Spotify playlists.