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April 18, 2024

MLK Celebration held January 15

SPEAKS AT EVENT — Attorney Chaz Beasley, who lived until the age of 10 in Taylorsville and has family here, served as guest speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, hosted by the Alexander County Chapter of the NAACP at the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center on January 15, 2024.

Attorney Chaz Beasley was guest speaker at the 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Monday, January 15, at the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center’s Education Complex, in Hiddenite, hosted by the Alexander County NAACP Branch.

NAACP officer Helen Chestnut was mistress of ceremonies for the event. Rev. William Little, pastor of Smith Grove Baptist Church in Hiddenite, gave a Scripture reading from Psalms 46:1-6. This was followed with a prayer by Rev. Ty Michaux of Macedonia Baptist Church (on NC 90 East) in Taylorsville. Rev. Scott Henson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylorsville, introduced the guest speaker.

Beasley encouraged the crowd of about 100 people to stand up for what is right.

“It’s 2024, y’all. I know that sometimes, when things are tough and things are rough, like the times we’ve gone through the past four years, you can wonder, whether or not you’ve got that grace for the race. Let me tell you right now, you can do it. I know what it’s like for a mom who raised me by herself, a grandma who pitched in when she didn’t have to, a grandfather who was the one big, male role model that I had in my life. But I thank God that He put so many people in my life that have given me the strength and resilence to carry on through. To be able to overcome some of the challenges I’ve had in my life.

“Here’s the thing you have to remember, when you’re standing in this life that we have: sometimes standing for truth will make you surprised to find that you’re not standing alone. It can be frustrating to wonder if the difficult times that you’re facing are going to continue to endure or if they’re going to change. One of the things we have to remember on days like today, when we’re celebrating people like Martin Luther King — it is important to remember that Rosa Parks wasn’t the first person to sit on a bus and not give up. Mamie Till wasn’t the first mother to bury her child after being lynched. And George Floyd wasn’t the first person who couldn’t breathe. But when the moment calls for greatness, it calls for us to stand up.

“Every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things,” said Beasley. “Martin Luther King was a great man. We celebrate him on days like today and we should do it. But we have to remember: he had the same blood running through his veins as you have. Rosa Parks was a great woman, but she could sit and stand just as well as you can sit and stand. She sat for what was right and she stood for justice. And that’s the kind of lessons that I learned, right here in Alexander County.”

“I firmly believe that 2024, after three years of questions, is going to be a year of answers. The answer is, whether or not you are going to be there to answer the call. Are you going to be there, to be one of those people who are providing solutions? We’re at a fork in the road, as a country and as a community. We have to decide if we are going to continue our strength and greatness. Or if we’re going to let people who sit behind screens and phones tell us how bad we are, as a people,” Beasley stated.

“That’s not who we are. Who we are are a people that have overcome and will continue to overcome, if we faint not. I’m so proud that we’re in a place that taught me the faith that I have to this very day. I’m so proud that I spent so many years at New Zion Baptist Church, that they gave me what I needed, to grow into what I grew into.

“I have a few degrees on the wall. I know one thing: I’m not the smartest person in this room or this county. My degrees don’t make me any better, because the things that I learned that got me to where I am, are things I learned here,” he said.

He recalled a hymn sung at New Zion Baptist with the words, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for ev’ry one, And there’s a cross for me.”
“It’s going to cost you something to answer the questions of God and the questions of this life. It might cost you everything,” Beasley stated.

Comparing the United States to a rootbound potted plant, he said, “We are in a stretching moment in a country and as a community. We have to decide, are we going to continue to grow, or are we going to stay in the same pot we’re in?”

“Have you had enough? Are you willing to take time, on a day like today, and seize the reins of your destiny? And say, ‘What we’ve gone through over the past three years has to stop.’ Are you willing to say, ‘I’m going to be one of these people who will plant trees that I may never sit under’?… Are you going to be one of these people who takes time, to pour into the younger people and not just ask them why they are the way they are — but to make them into the people they need to be?”

“A lot of solutions are coming your way in 2024. Are you going to be part of that solution? Or are you going to be one of those people who cling to our worst instincts, that tries to separate brother from brother, and sister from sister? Are you going to be a knife that cuts people apart or are you going to be a sword of the Lord? We have to decide,” Beasley said.

“Take up your birthrights. Take up your heritage. Take up your history and walk into the future that you’re building, so that one of these days you can say, ‘I’m so glad my loved ones did not drop the baton when it was time to hand it to me.’

“Make sure you put your heart in the right place. The good Lord has called us to this time. Take the reins. Take hold of your destiny. Make this community the community that you want to see it be. Don’t just rely on the politicians and the elected officials — they’re going their jobs, I know many of them personally — they’re doing the work but you are the true wind behind them. You push them. You hold them accountable. It can be done. It can happen in a place like Alexander County. It’s going to continue to happen in a place like Alexander County. Make this future yours. Be the captain of your ship and I guarantee you that the good Lord’s going to keep you sailing through those waters every single day of the week. You can do it. The work is yours. Take it up and keep on fighting.”

Beasley is the great-grandson of Mrs. Lois Mayes Barker of Taylorsville. He has roots in Alexander County, lived here up until age 10, and attended Taylorsville Elementary School. Beasley grew up in a low-income, single parent home. Despite the challenges of poverty, he had the consistent support of his family, church, and teachers who invested in him as a child. His quality public school education pushed him to reach his potential, preparing him to graduate from Harvard with honors.

After graduation, Beasley worked to reform the housing industry during the toughest days of the recent economic crisis, pushing to end the irresponsible lending practices. His desire to change the way the nation’s laws impact economic growth encouraged him to attend law school at Georgetown.

As a law student, Beasley translated his legal training into action through his work in the Supreme Court of North Carolina and the United States Senate. He spent his spare time coaching youth basketball.

Following law school, Beasley returned home to North Carolina. Currently, Beasley lives in Mecklenburg with his wife, Lindsay. His work as an attorney in the financial industry has allowed him to hone his knowledge of how a healthy financial system provides the means to create (and sustain) jobs. He was elected as a State Representative in the NC House for two terms and served on multiple civic boards, including the State Board of Community Colleges.

Taylorsville Mayor George Holleman, Town of Taylorsville Chief of Police Mike Millsaps, Alexander County Sheriff Chad Pennell, Alexander County Clerk of Superior Court Edwin Chapman, Register of Deeds Scott Hines, District Attorney Sarah Kirkman, and Assistant District Attorney Courtney Marlowe were local dignitaries attending. Millsaps is the first black police chief in Taylorsville. (County Commissioner Larry Yoder was unable to attend, due to work obligations, but sent kind regards.)

Holleman presented a Mayoral Proclamation which designated January 15, 2024, as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the town of Taylorsville.

Mrs. Fleeta Mayes, of Taylorsville, presented a framed Times newspaper clipping of Beasley to the attorney, which was published when he was about two years old.

Rev. Sterling Howard, President of the Alexander County NAACP Chapter, gave remarks and thanks to those attending.

Ms. Chestnut reminded the audience of several upcoming events, including The Union Baptist Association this Saturday at St. Peter Baptist Church in Statesville. That church will also honor Rev. Howard, their former pastor, now retired, with a meal afterward at Captain’s Galley in Hickory.

Chestnut also noted the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Dinner, a Democratic Party sponsored event, is planned at the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center on January 27 at 12 noon with an auction following; tickets are $15, deadline is Jan. 23.

She also noted the 2024 Juneteenth Celebration is planned for Saturday, June 15, at the Alexander County Courthouse Park.

The meeting closed with Rev. Macy Jones leading the assembly in “We Shall Overcome.”

KEEPSAKE PRESENTED — Mrs. Fleeta Mayes, of Taylorsville, presented a framed Taylorsville Times newspaper clipping of Chaz Beasley to the attorney, which was published when he was about two years old. Above, Mayes (left) and Beasley share a hug on stage at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on January 15, 2024.


PERFORM AT KING CELEBRATION — Youth from the community took part in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center on January 15. Shown above, left to right: Willow Moore, Heaven Howard, and Lucca Moore.

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