By Jan White
After 42 years, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Committee (MLK Committee) members have announced that they will be dissolving the organization that has served the community since 1978.
The committee was initially formed with several goals in mind. First, to help promote public awareness of Martin Luther King, Jr. as an American hero and also to invite gifted and accomplished speakers who might not have otherwise come to Crockett to join us to help commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The spokesperson for the group, Roberta Mason, said, “We believe those purposes have been accomplished.”
The MLK Committee brought many well-known leaders in the Houston Area to Crockett, including United States Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, Reverand Bill Lawson of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Police Chief Lee Brown, columnist Robert C. Newberry of the Houston Post newspaper, and the late Dr. Thomas Freeman of Texas Southern University. Judge Morris Overstreet with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of Austin, the only Black person elected to a statewide office in Texas, was also a guest speaker.
In its farewell to the community, the MLK Committee wanted to recognize the relatives of some area residents who came and spoke during the MLK Day celebration programs:
• the late Dr. James Wilson, Professor at UTA, nephew of Floyd and Lois Ball
• retired Army Colonel Donald Ards, Simon Springs Community
• Dr. Nelson T. Daniels, Associate Administrator Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M, son of the late Bill and Mae Bell Daniels
• Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M, born in Grapeland
• Dr. Carolyn Jackson, Harris County Juvenile Probation Inclusion Instructor, daughter of the late Wiley and Ruthie Jackson,
• Harold Dutton, Texas State Representative, brother of Anna Dutton
The MLK committee also wanted to take the opportunity to thank the sponsors that helped fund the programs, among them Bethel Baptist Church, Citizens National Bank, The Honorable Sarah Tunnell Clark, Ella Cooper, Eva Cooper Cotton, Calvin and Cynthia Neel, Hilliard and Ruth McKnight, Mount Olive Baptist Church, the Nucor/Vulcraft group, Pioneer Bank, Saint Luke Baptist Church, Southland Federal Credit Union, Union Prairie Baptist Church, and Williams Chapel Chapel Church of God. The group is forever grateful for the financial support of all its donors and sponsors.
Along with the list of outstanding speakers for MLK Day events, the committee wanted to thank elected officials who supported the program: Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher, County Judge Jim Lovell, District Attorney Donna Kaspar, County Attorney Daphne Session, and County Court-at-law judge Sarah Tunnel Clark.
In addition, Mason would like to thank James Gentry, Executive Director of the Crockett Economic Development Board, and Jim Tom Ainsworth, retired minister for the First Presbyterian Church, for their annual participation in the programs.
MLK Committee Chair Roberta Mason expressed her appreciation to the organization for their dedication to the program and wanted to expressly thank everyone involved, from the speakers to attendees of the annual events.
“We are leaving on a high note,” said Mason, “knowing we did our very best for 42 years, bringing the best speakers in Texas here. We accomplished our very best for the citizens of Crockett, Houston County, and the surrounding towns and communities.”