Duquesne's Wheatley Society celebrates King's life, legacy
Duquesne residents of all ages gathered at Macedonia Baptist Church to celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with prayer, song and inspirational words.
The Phyllis Wheatley Literary Society of Duquesne hosted its annual Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration on Saturday.
Participants honored King's vision and role in the civil rights movement by sharing excerpts of his historic speeches and singing praises of Christian faith.
They played “Guess Who” games, asking the audience to recognize descriptions of prominent figures in black history such as Rosa Parks, Malcom X, Maya Angelou, and of course, Phillis Wheatley.
Born in West Africa as Sasha Gamboa in the early 1750s, she is believed to have been sold into slavery at the age of 7. She was purchased by John Wheatley of Boston and renamed Phillis, after the ship that brought her to America.
The Wheatley family taught her to read and write, and she became the first woman slave to be recognized as a published poet.
“She is ranked 62 among the top 500 poets,” emcee Lindsey Snead said. “That is one marvelous woman.”
Wheatley's namesake society is committed to literacy and higher education. It awards annual scholarships to high school seniors, who reside in Duquesne and attend East Allegheny and West Mifflin Area high schools.
“Education is the most important thing to young people,” society president Marlene Wallington said. “Where would they be without education? If you don't know where you've been, how will you know where you are going?”
Teaching young people about King and others who played important roles in American history is something that will have a lasting impact, members said.
“I couldn't let this pass me by,” Diane Rhodes said. “I needed to be a part of something that would pay tribute to someone who contributed to much to black history.”
The program included poems, speeches, songs, mime performances and dance routines that played on the concept of faith and hope.
“Remember our past,” Gladys Randolph said. “Our past will shed light on our present. Our past and our present will brighten our future.”
Keynote speaker Diaillo Mitchell had dreams of college football and a career in law enforcement, but was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a July 2013 shooting in Pittsburgh.
“Remember that, with God, nothing shall be impossible,” he said.
By holding onto his faith and thinking about the struggles of those who came before him, Mitchell said he is able to pursue the career of his choice, and he is studying criminal justice at Community College of Allegheny County.
Mitchell reflected on King's “I Have a Dream” speech.
“Although I'd read the speech so many times in school and in church, I don't know if it ever affected me as it did today,” he said.
Mitchell said King's words are about giving everyone the faith to follow their dreams, no matter what adversity they feel they must overcome.
Jennifer R. Vertullo writes for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fire breaks out for 3rd time in abandoned McKeesport house
- McKeesport Area discusses easier access of public documents
- Homestead to offer select free-parking days during holiday season
- Kennywood Holiday Lights festival returns for 5th year
- Former McKeesport resident donates to heritage center children’s raffle
- Charges pile up against Turtle Creek suspect
- After 27 years, Clairton emerges from state ‘financially distressed’ status
- North Versailles’ Dance Company’s ‘Nutcracker’ expands with bonus program for students
- Detective testifies Homestead man punched him
- McKeesport Area could bring back Air Force Junior ROTC program