By Sheena Williams

Killeen Daily Herald

It was a simple handshake, but the gesture was one that Rosa Hereford will never forget.

The hand she touched so many years ago was that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – a man who continues to touch the lives of people all over the world. She remembers his words of equality that resonated with so much compassion as they filled the walls of her college.

"Some things that he said were, 'Change is going to come and it's going to come from what you do. So remember that all the things that can happen negatively while you are doing sit-ins and marching – just remember to do it nonviolently,'" said Hereford, who is coordinating the tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. "I shall always remember those words."

The activist's words and life have also been on 13-year-old Donisha Gillespie's mind as she prepares to give her speech at the event.

Performances will be made by Anderson Chapel's Cathedral Choir, the Young Movers with Praise Teen Dance Ministry and the Little Angels Youth Dance Ministry, as well as a speech by the Rev. William Campbell Jr.

Gillespie has drawn inspiration from King's and President-elect Obama's speeches to help her express what the late activist means to her.

"Barack Obama speaks from his heart instead of speaking from his head, and when you have your mind, body and soul in a conversation, it's not really your mind telling you what to say next. And that's how I wrote this speech – from my heart," Gillespie said. "He (Dr. King) means a lot to me because I'm African-American, but not just because of that but also because he brought all races together to stand up as equals. People shouldn't be separated by their race, and it doesn't matter what you look like or where you come from. At the end of the day, we all have each other."

There may be some initial jitters before her speech, but Gillespie said that once she begins to express her feelings and focus her eye contact on one person, it will be a piece of cake. It took her about an hour to write and revise her speech, and she consulted with her mother to fix all the "weird sounding parts."

"People should know about Martin Luther King, and I wrote a poem in memory of him because if someone passes away and you never say anything about them or tell anyone about them, they'll go in vain," said Gillespie. "But if you keep their spirit alive, then they can live through you."

So as King's dream lives on, it reaches a milestone of success – the inauguration of the first African-American president which, in Phyllis Jones' eyes, is a reinforcement of a spirit and a cause that will never be forgotten.

"Martin Luther King brought everyone together, and it's important that people remember that," said Jones, president of the Killeen Branch NAACP. "If you don't teach it, then people don't remember it, and this is something that is important for everyone."

For more information on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute, call (254) 286-9211.

Contact Sheena Williams at or (254) 501-7559.

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