YOUNGSTOWN - Bells rang, feet stomped and voices united in celebration of one of the nation's most beloved civil rights leaders.
Parents and children were treated to songs and readings Thursday in commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Harding Elementary School in Youngstown.
Children in kindergarten through fifth grade performed songs such as "My Father's House," "This Little Light," "Amazing Grace," "He Had a Dream" and other classics as parents and teachers enjoyed the spirited program.
Music teacher Sarah Phillips plays the piano while second-grader JaSayia Evans sings Thursday during a performance honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Harding Elementary School in Youngstown.
The school also welcomed the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Youngstown as the special guest. Macklin, a Youngstown State University graduate, engaged the children with a comparison involving one of his favorite cartoons, Disney's "The Lion King."
Simba, Macklin said, was another type of king. He explained that Simba did not achieve greatness without the help of his friends, and King also had the help of friends, such as Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Edward Nixon.
"Dr. King understood his purpose, his place," Macklin said.
Black History Month events
The following are upcoming Black History Month events being held locally in during February:
Saturday: Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, 444 Mahoning Ave., Warren, will host "Fighting for Freedom: The Story of the United States Colored Troops During the Civil War" at 2 p.m.
Noon to 6 p.m., YSU, Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center. The African Marketplace. Vendors from near and far present artistic creations, artifacts, books and jewelry. African culture will also be celebrated in music and dance, provided by the Harambee Youth Group of Youngstown.
He employed a quote from the movie, and said the same is true to life: "Never forget who you are," he said. "You have the ability to possess these same skills and talents."
Macklin warned children not to let themselves be judged by others. He said King's greatness was not predicated by what others thought, but by doing what is right.
"We honor Dr. King by doing things that are right," he said. "We have to come together as brothers and sisters."
King promoted peace and nonviolence in the 1950s and '60s and was instrumental in achieving equality for African-Americans in the United States. One of King's most famous speeches, "I Have a Dream," was given in 1963.
Today kicks off a monthlong celebration of Black History Month, with local events Saturday at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library and Youngstown State University.