Community honors Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

CHARLOTTE — Community members gathered this weekend across Charlotte to host events honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Uptown on Sunday, leaders within the community marched with hundreds of people through the streets in honor of Dr. King.

Mayor Vi Lyles was in attendance along with city councilman James Mitchell.

One marcher told Channel 9 the importance of taking part in the march.

“Dr. King left a legacy for us, especially as a black man myself, we’re here to carry on his legacy, to continue to sing his praises, even though he’s on from us,” Cole Hooker said.

After the march, a wreath-laying ceremony in Marshall Park was held in honor of Dr. King.

In north Charlotte, more than 400 volunteers packed into Northside Baptist Church to help fill snack packs for the United Way. The organization hosts annual service projects to honor Dr. King.

United Way says the project is meant to support non profits while also giving volunteers a chance to reflect on Dr. King’s life.

“There is a desire for the community to come together and to think outside of one another,” said Bob Young of United Way of Greater Charlotte. “I think during the pandemic, it was easy to very insulated and to think about just yourself. I think we’re coming out of our cocoon a little bit and this is evidence of that.”

The bags that were packed on Saturday will be distributed to kids at afterschool programs in the Charlotte area.

In northwest Charlotte, people gathered to honor Dr. King. The Charlotte chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity hosted a blood drive with One Blood.

Organizers told Channel 9 they are always looking for ways to give back to the community.

“A blood drive is one of those things we don’t think about as often as a form of giving back but its very vital especially during times like these where hospitals are filled,” said Lamont Booker of Alpha Phi Alpha. “It’s very instrumental to have the blood stock the supplies they need, so this is just one way that we can give back.”

Alpha Phi Alpha also offers mentorship programs, training courses and scholarship opportunities for students.

For a full list of events that honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in the Charlotte area, click here.

Jewish, Islamic faiths unite in Gaston County

It was just after 9/11 when men from the Jewish and Islamic faiths in Gaston County began to forge a lasting relationship.

It was about faith in each other, even when it seemed like faiths would collide.

That was abundantly evident after 9/11 with the wave of animosity toward Islamic people.

One phone call in Gastonia helped to bridge the enormous gap.

Soon after 9/11, William Cross, then president of Temple Emanuel, got a phone call about meeting with the head of the Islamic Center of Gastonia.

“I immediately said yes because I’m curious,” said Cross.

Rafat Hamam felt the world was blaming all Muslims for the 9/11 attack, though he and many others had denounced it.

“It was uncertain,” Hamam said. “Communities all across America were afraid and concerned.”

The two men helped to establish the Gaston Interfaith Trialogue, a union between Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

But they had to suppress some human tendencies that have been a constant between their faiths.

“I believe God cringes at these hates, massacres, and wars,” Cross said.

For two decades, the two men of the Gaston Interfaith Trialogue led peace marches and gatherings to build relationships that would last.

“We learn about our differences but also celebrate our similarities,” Hamam said.

Their names have been etched on the MLK monument in Gastonia.

The two advocates hope more people find common ground with each other.

(WATCH BELOW: Volunteers host events in Charlotte area to honor Martin Luther King Jr.)

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