(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
Residents, politicians, students, and families gathered in Mattapan on Monday to remember a man who fought so they could have not only equality but also a voice.
“[Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] means a lot to me,” said Felicia Marion, a 45-year-old Mattapan resident. “He fought for me and my children so we could have the same equality as everyone else.”
Marion said her parents worked just like she does with her own children to instill his message and to continue his work.
“We’ve come a long way and I thank him for that. We’re not all the way there yet but his message has brought us far,” she said.
To honor a man who gave so much back, members of the American Legion William E. Carter Post and Auxiliary #16 held their ninth-annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. The program included speeches, poems and even a little singing but many where just happy to gather together to remember a great man and share his message with the younger generation.
“It’s a great feeling when you see everybody come out for this day, it just fills your heart,” said Commander Bob Greene, a 67-year-old Brockton resident and leader of the post. “When I was a young man he meant a lot to me because he changed the lives of blacks. He showed me you could be anybody you wanted to be.”
Many at the event spoke about their own interactions and memories of a man who was killed in the prime of his life and many like Leannedra Ellerbee, a 6-year-old Plympton resident, were just learning about his message.
“He had a dream and I want to live his dream,” Ellerbee said.
Along with residents, elected officials were present to share what they have learned from Dr. King’s message and how it has influenced their own lives.
“We need to be able to educate our young people about the struggle that took place so we could be here,” said state Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, one of the guest speakers at the event.
Forry spoke about how her parents taught her King’s message and told her no matter what she could be anything she wanted to be. Forry used the opportunity to instill the importance of education in her message.
“For me this is an honor to be here as a child of immigrants. This is an amazing community and it is important to volunteer our time to help our younger generation grow,” said Forry.
Although the majority of the day focused on the work and message of Dr. King, members of the post also honored a man who dedicated his life to his community, William E. Carter.
“I hope he’s somewhere looking down on us and blessing us to carry on his work,” said Greene.
Carter’s two sons, Norman Carter and Richard Carter Jr., were presented with a plaque as a thank you to their father who fought to keep the post open.
Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey seemed to sum the day up best when he said, “With his work, today no one is going to laugh when you say an African American male or female can be elected president.”