Celebration At Coliseum Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on Sunday to celebrate the birth of perhaps the greatest American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the 16th year of the Coast wide celebration. Dr. Gilbert Mason is a local civil rights activist who first organized the event 16 years ago. He also organized the beach wade in 1959 and actually had a chance to meet Dr. King.

"He congratulated me for the Gulf Coast and the state of Mississippi because no act of civil rights had ever taken place in Mississippi before we went on the beach in 1959," Dr. Mason said.

Younger generations of African Americans still feel the effects of what King accomplished. When Dr. Mason was 18, he didn't have the right to vote. But those who followed in his footsteps did.

"If it wasn't for Martin Luther King, my life would a living hell," said Walter Cook, organizer of the event. "The world would have never opened it eyes to the negitism that has been going on for centuries.

Martin Luther King was not just a leader in the black community. His message of love and peace can be a lesson to all of us.

"Dr. King was in favor of non-violence, and in the world today where there's a lot of madness, I think that it's very important that we be able to focus on getting along with our brothers and sisters no matter their race or religious creed," Rev. Lynn Hough said.

Monday is a national holiday honoring Dr. King. On the Coast, there will be several events. Monday morning, there will be a parade in Biloxi that starts at 10. Then at 11, Macedonia Baptist Church in Ocean Springs is holding a memorial service. Also, Monday afternoon at 2, you can go to a program honoring Dr. King, as well as a battle of the bands at Biloxi's Yankie Stadium.