Alexander County residents gathered to hear Mr. Chaz Beasley, NC House District 92 representative, speak during the Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration on Monday, January 16, 2017, held at The Hiddenite Center. Approximately 175 residents gathered at the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center to hear Mr. Chaz Beasley and other local persons: Mayor George Holleman, County Commission Chairman Milton Campbell, Rev. Macy Jones, Rev. Sterling Howard, Mr. Henry Gregory, Mr. Thomas McCauley, Ms. Vallie Chen, The Moore Family Singers, Ms. Miranda Burgin and Helen Chestnut were participants in the program.
Rep. Beasley related that he was proud of his roots in Alexander County as the son of Ms. Sherry Bruner, grandson of the late Alexander (Sonny) Bruner and Shirley Barker Bruner; great-grandson of Mr. Stacey Barker and Lois Mayes Barker. Beasley completed his undergraduate education at Harvard, and graduate degree at Georgetown Law School. He works as an attorney in Charlotte.
Mr. Beasley took the oath of office last week as a representative in the NC House District 92 using his great-grandmother’s Bible that was given to him as a child.
He noted that celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not to remember him as a monument, but that he was real man who had a vision and was a servant.
A few comments from his speech include: “We owe it to our families to continue the fight and recognize ‘It is not about me,’ as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said. Are we going to live a life that’s about us? Or are we going to live a life that’s about the people that we touch in this room? The Bible talks about take up your cross and follow Jesus. We need to encourage everyone, because this work is too important! Stay strong and be a great inspiration to others.”
“Brought up in Alexander County, people have stereotypes about us. They think they know us. They think they understand us. They think they know what we’re thinking, before any words come out of our mouths. It is important to us that we remember that every single child in Alexander County can do exactly what I did, as what they’re growing up the same way I grew up. Every single child in this county can live up to the fullest of their potential,” said Rep. Beasley.
Dr. King’s “legacy is still being fulfilled every day. There is no end to this game. There is no finish in this work,” said Beasley. “We cannot disrespect the memory of our ancestors by thinking that we can skate along on all the work that they did. We cannot disrespect our ancestors who did all this, knowing that we would take the baton and go farther than they could have ever been.”
“We have to remember that, when we live this life, it is about the lives that we also touch. It is about the impact that we also make. It is about leaving the space better than we found it,” Rep. Beasley commented.
“We must all decide when it becomes more important that we do what is right than what is convenient. Convenience can be a killer. Complancency can kill not only you, but can kill the next generation,” he added. “But perseverance can keep you pushing on.”
The audience gave Beasley a standing ovation at the conclusion of his address.
Rev. Sterling Howard, President of the Alexander County Chapter of NAACP thanked the crowd for attending. Howard noted that the day he left Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta, it changed his life. He returned to Alexander County. Soon after, Howard and Jim Westfield staged the first sit-in (at the former Tiny Diner) in Alexander County.