COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – In celebration of the King holiday, community organization Dream 365 hosted a breakfast to recognize those who’ve made contributions to the causes of freedom and justice.
Dream 365 honored unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement and community activists during a ceremony that commemorates the Dr. King Jr holiday. Pastor Tony Montgomery says Dream 365 must continue the work of Dr. King.
“All the things that Martin wanted done have not yet been accomplished so we got to look at those things too and say hey, how can we continue the dream and then how can we continue to dream more about what we can do with our futures as a people and as a community,” says Montgomery.
Laverne Greene-Leech received the Oasis of Freedom & Justice award during the ceremony. She was a member of the first class to integrate the Mississippi University for Women.
“There was a lot of isolation, even from our communities because of fear,” says Greene-Leech.
Greene-Leech says she remembers just how difficult it was in 1966.
“They came over to where I was and asked me if I liked my lunch and I said yes. They proceeded to pick up the garbage can and dump it on my lunch. I had to sit there, there was nothing I could do. I had to sit there and the cafeteria worker said to me, “you know you got to clean that up” and yes I did. I cleaned it up,” says Greene-Leech.
Even after a cruel incident like the one she experienced in the cafeteria, Greene-Leech says she has no regrets.
“But it was worth it. That’s what I’m happy about today, that it was worth it. As I look at the W now and pass through the campus, I’m happy to say I was a W girl,” says Greene-Leech.
Greene-Leech worked as a Lowndes County librarian for 32 years and had this advice for the next generation.
“Go for it. The sky’s the limit. Obstacles may be in your way but go on and maybe it won’t all be for you but someone will come after you. So make that bridge for those who come after you,” says Greene-Leech.
The 1st class to integrate MUW also included Diane Hardy Thompson and Barbara Turner Bankhead. The Keynote speaker of the event was Harry E. Johnson, the President and CEO of the King National Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Since 2007, Dream 365 has expanded the King celebration from a one-day event to a week long celebration.