Dozens of diverse voices deliver “I Have a Dream” speech in Jawbone Park

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WVWC Gospel Choir
The West Virginia Wesleyan College Gospel Choir performs during Sunday afternoon's community reading of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in Jawbone Park.

BUCKHANNON – Folks from across the Buckhannon-Upshur community gathered at Jawbone Park Sunday to celebrate February as Black History Month. An event sponsored by the city’s Diversity Appreciation Coalition featured volunteers each reading one of the 82 sentences of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Buckhannon mayor David McCauley said the “I Have a Dream” speech was originally delivered by Dr. King on Aug. 28, 1963 in Washington D.C., in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. More than 250,000 civil rights supporters attended what came to be known as one of the most defining moments of the civil rights era.

McCauley said the speech has long been recognized as one of the greatest oratorical events in world history.

“Our Buckhannon community respectfully offers its own rendition of Dr. King’s thought-provoking words through 82 eclectic voices,” McCauley said as high winds tore through Jawbone Park. The actual number was a bit lower after a few people didn’t show up.

Owen Lindsey, of the West Virginia Wesleyan College Black Student Union, led those gathered Sunday in the invocation and benediction. The WVWC Gospel Choir, led by Dr. Robbie Quarles, performed two songs.

“I would just like to thank everyone for coming out on this beautiful, typically Buckhannon day,” McCauley said. “For the last three years I have been preaching about our city operations being competent, inclusive – which is what today is about
– transparent, and efficient. I want to thank everyone for coming out and playing a role in this.”

McCauley said events celebrating diversity will be held all year long.

“We are all committed together to continue to advance the inclusivity of this community,” he said. “And we are going to do things like this each month. In March, it is Women’s History Month. We have some essay exercises and coloring contests we are going to do in the public schools for the kids. Then we will be back here sometime in March and have the better essays read.”

McCauley said the Diversity Appreciation Coalition was formed in November.

“We started out with the lighting of the Menorah and then we had the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the college,” he said. “We celebrated Black History Month and next month is Women’s History Month. Later we will celebrate Hispanic Americans and Indigenous Americans, and the Pride Festival will be here in June. We are going to keep plugging away.”

I Have a Dream
Members of the Buckhannon-Upshur community gathered to participate in a shared reading of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech Sunday in Jawbone Park.