Singing To Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

by Mackenzie Stasko on January 19, 2014 at 11:53 am

For some, Martin Luther King Jr. Day means a day off school or work, but for a group of local choirs, it’s a day dedicated to remembering the late civil rights leader through song. Choirs and residents from all over Zanesville gathered at the John McIntire Library for the 23rd Annual City-Wide Singspiration, an event Carlotta Workman said is to honor King’s work for equality of all races and nationalities.

"The Reverend King, even though he was African-American and maybe the major benefits for his work was the African-American community, but the results helped everybody, every race. He knew no color," said Workman, who coordinated the event.

Traditional African-American spirituals were sung, songs Workman said were once used to lift low spirits and bring comfort during both the civil rights and pre-civil rights era.

"Many of them are what maybe slaves sang when they were out in the fields or when they’d come in at night," Workman explained. "And they were soothing-type songs and they had a message though, many of them, most of them were to their God."

Reverend Dr. T. Terry Shoener told the audience stories of his time spent with King and his time working in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Shoener explained, "One of the stories I’m gonna tell today is about going in my office, the door was closed, the office in my church when I went in. Low and behold Dr. King was holding a meeting in there. He was sitting at my desk with his feet up on my desk smoking a cigar."

Shoener said he will never forget his time working with King, and the likes of Jesse Jackson, Ralph Abernathy, and Andrew Young during the movement.

"Sometimes the image you see on a television is not what the person is really like. What you see of Dr. King is really what he was like," Shoener said. "It felt like being in the presence of an Old Testament prophet, it just was magnificent. It was moving, and my life is changed forever because of it."