The Huntington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted a rousing celebration for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and the 151st anniversary of the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation Monday.
Rep. Steve Isreal (D-Dix Hills) joined a host of other elected officials -- including state Assemb. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington) and Huntington Town Board members Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland and Tracey Edwards -- at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Huntington for the festivities.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Roderick Pearson, president of the NAACP's Islip chapter and executive director of Youth, Women and Minority Affairs with the Suffolk County Human Services Division.
The event included speeches, singing and recitation of the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, that set in motion the abolition of slavery in the United States. The order freed about 3 million slaves in rebel Southern states. It did not apply to areas of the South not in rebellion or to slave-owning border states such as Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri.
Israel shared his story of touring the Memphis motel where King was assassinated, the biblical story of the Good Samaritan, the importance of helping others and how King lived that parable and of having a "dangerous unselfishness."
"If we don't stop and help others what will happen to them?" Israel said. "We are reminded by Dr. Martin Luther King of our fundamental obligation when we see someone who needs help, to help. Our fundamental obligation is to climb that mountain until you get to the top."
Huntington chapter president Betty Miller said the event turned out just as she had hoped, full of celebration and hope.
"I love this program every year," Miller said. "It's full praise, preaching and singing and tonight we had all of that. It was perfect."