MLK's legacy remembered locally

By Staff
Melissa Dozier-Cason, FCT Writer
It's been over 40 years since the nation and the world heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech from Washington D.C. but one local man strives to keep the dream alive today.
Rev. Charles Dale of Russellville sees the world as a work in progress, and said that the dream has not yet been fulfilled.
"Dr. King believed that everything could be solved with all races – black, white, Hispanic – and see each other as human beings instead of their color," Dale said.
Dale was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and participated in many marches, including those in Birmingham, and the historical Selma march.
In 1965 600 civil rights activists to marched from Selma to Montgomery.
March 7, 1965 is known as "bloody Sunday" because the marchers only made it to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on U.S. Route 80, where state and local lawmen attacked them on the bridge, driving them back into Selma.
Two days later, on March 9, 1965, King led a symbolic march to the bridge. Later, civil rights leaders sought court protection for a third, full-scale march from Selma to Montgomery.
A federal court judge ruled that the group was within their rights to protest, and on March 21, 3,200 marchers left Selma toward Montgomery.
The group walked 12 miles per day and reached the Capitol on March 25.
Dale was among those who marched for their freedom and for equality.
Less than five months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
"I felt that having equal rights was worth dying for, and Martin Luther King, Jr. felt the same way," Dale said.
Dale also remembers Franklin County before the Civil Right Movement.
He remembers the separate water fountains, the separate bathrooms, the separate schools and he remembers the violence.
Dale said that he doesn't want to think about a world where King had not lived, but believes that God would have sent oppressed people another a deliverer.
"I believe that God sent him [King] to this earth for this purpose," Dale added.
Today, Dale is trying to keep King's dream alive by striving to see people as they are and not just their race.
Dale is also active with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee of Northwest Alabama, which based in Sheffield.
The Committee offers 16 yearly scholarships to different colleges and universities. The scholarships are open to anyone in Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties.
"We had several white students receive these scholarships, so they are not just for black students," Dale said.
Each school receives information on how to apply for the scholarships each year.
"These scholarships give young people an opportunity for higher education that they might not have otherwise," Dale said.
Dale is the assistant pastor of the St. Paul C.M. E. Church in Russellville.

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