Nearly six decades later, the words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, delivered to a quarter-million people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, continue to echo in Loudoun.
The Town of Leesburg held its 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. march and celebration Monday to commemorate the civil rights leader’s 90th birthday. Hundreds of residents of all races marched a half-mile from the Loudoun County Courthouse to the Douglass Community Center, where they escaped the frigid temperatures outside to be uplifted by warm performances and words of wisdom from area youth and local government leaders inside.
The ceremony kicked off with a morning youth panel on race amity, followed by a main event that featured a prayer by Rev. Alice King of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun and talks from Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk and County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large). Also in attendance were U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser, NAACP Loudoun Chapter President Michelle C. Thomas and Leesburg Councilmen Neil Steinberg and Ron Campbell.
“I’m so excited that we do this every year,” Burk said.
This year’s guest speaker was Mark “The Speaker Man” Wiggins, an international motivational speaker, podcast host and author of multiple books on personal and businesses success. Wiggins’ talk followed the “Dream, Believe … Act!” theme of the ceremony by describing how King made his dream a reality by acting on his beliefs. “Martin believed in his dream,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins used Randall as an example for his talk, noting how she acted on her dream of running for political office in 2015 and became the first African-American woman in Virginia’s history to be elected as chair of a county board. “Now we call her chair—she’s a history maker.”
He also presented attendees with 3.5 points on how to turn their dreams into action. His first point emphasized a changed mindset. He compared a person’s decision to remain stagnant in life with an impala, which is unable to blindly jump somewhere without knowing what the landing looks like. “Don’t have the impala mindset,” he said.
He urged those in the packed gymnasium to suspend their disbelief and begin where they are. His final half point focused on the attitude required to turn dreams into reality—passion. “You must have passion for your purpose,” he said.
Wiggins wrapped up his talk by urging the audience members to do more and be greater than average.
“When you set a dream, it should be so big that it scares you,” he said. “If you’re going to dream, you’re going to believe…you’ve got to take action.”
Randall also presented eight residents with awards from the MLK “I Have a Dream” Committee for their years of community service. The celebration also included songs, dances, and a performance by a mime team from Reflections Word Alive Church International.