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NAACP Springfield Prepares MLK Jr Day Celebration

Springfield’s chapter of the NAACP is gearing up for its celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The celebration will focus on community diversity and prosperity of the American dream. The keynote speaker herself overcame oppression and poverty, and achieved her dream of coming to America to receive an education. KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports.

The MLK Celebration is to recognize the ambition of those who struggled to obtain their dreams. Dr. Tererai Trent, originally from Zimbabwe, will speak at the event. Lela Panagides is helping organize the celebration.

“Tererai Trent has a remarkable story which is integrated into the central theme of honoring the vision and hopes Dr. King had for this nation,” says Panagides

As a young girl living in an impoverished country, Trent watched the boys in her village go to school while she was not allowed. Secretly, she studied her brother’s homework. She was married at age 11, and had three children. Her older husband beat her when she said she wanted to pursue an education. Her situation began to change when a person who worked for an outreach group told her it was okay to have dreams.

Trent eventually went on to receive her doctorate. Since then, Panagides says Trent has been inspiring others with her story.

“Oprah Winfrey chose Tererai as her favorite guest of all time because she symbolizes everything that Oprah believes: that no matter where you come from or what has happened to you, that you have the power to manifest your dreams. And that one person can make a difference in this world,” says Panagides.

The event will begin at 9:00 a.m. on January 16th, with a gathering at the Mediacom Ice Park to march across the Martin Luther King Bridge and continue on to the Clara Thompson Hall at Drury University. There, Dr. Trent will present awards to three middle school children who wrote essays that embody the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr.

For more information visit www.naacpspringfieldmo.org. For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes.