By Portia A. Scott (www.atlantadailyworld.com)
An array of local, national and international celebrities was honored at Ebenezer Baptist Church recently for the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame that is held annually during the Trumpet Awards weekend. The occasion marked a permanent tribute to the brave warriors of justice at the Martin Luther King historic site, where nearly a full house attended.
Those inducted into the Walk of Fame were: Falcons owner Arthur Blank; the late R&B singer James Brown; Dr. Gerald Durley, senior pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church; Bahamian Bishop Neil C. Ellis, organizer and pastor of Mt. Tabor Union Baptist Church; the late Leon Hall, father of Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall; Bishop Barbara King, founder and pastor of Hillside Chapter and Trust Center Inc.; former Mayor Carl Stokes, the first African-American mayor of a major American city; former Congressman Louis Stokes; and McDonald’s franchise owner Henry “Hank” Thomas. They joined over 80 inductees who have sacrificed and struggled to make equality a reality. Marc H. Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, who could not get out of New York because of inclement weather, was slated to be honored later.
The site, encased with their footprints, is outside the M.L. King Visitors Center on Auburn Avenue, and enhances the historical value of the area. The occasion was a memorable one for all involved.
Xernona Clayton, president of the Trumpet Awards and the visionary behind the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, quipped about the program guests that included Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and Ebenezer pastor Dr. Raphael Warnock. She also thanked and acknowledged King Historic Site Superintendent Judy Forte and the Park Service staff, as well as comedian Jonathan Slocumb and Miranda Mack McKenzie of Anheuser Busch Inc., a key sponsor of this event. It was held Friday, Jan. 28, just before the 19th Annual Trumpet Awards celebration that Saturday at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame was established in September 2004, as a partnership between the National Parks Service and the Trumpet Awards Foundation, where in addition to Clayton, who is the vice chair, includes members Harold R. Lewis, chair, Thomas Dortch Jr., treasurer, and Diane H. Pollard, secretary. Radio personality Frank Ski, served as moderator for the occasion.