CRESTVIEW — Continuing the legacy of influential black Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman requires involvement from younger generations, speakers at Carver-Hill Memorial and Historical Society's Black History Month celebration said Friday.
The Rev. Edward J. Parker, pastor of First Church of God in Christ, called King a "visionary" whom God moved "to stand for something and stand for a people."
"That meant something," he said, adding that he hopes younger generations can appreciate the slain civil rights leader's sacrifice.
Reaching younger residents is crucial to ensure that they reach their full potential, Parker said, adding the community should take active roles in all children's lives.
"It's something we have to do," he said. "Back when we were growing up, everybody raised us."
Parker said he recalled neighbors and churchgoers reporting misbehavior to parents. He added that he believes similar measures could help ensure Crestview's children have bright futures.
"I am concerned about the welfare of our community," Parker said. "We have to do something to curb the violence, right here in our city of Crestview. We have to encourage our young people to pull their pants up — nobody wants to hire anybody who can't pull their pants up.
"Sometimes, I think we forget that God has brought us this far," he said. "Young people take it for granted and they don't know what others took whippings and beatings for."
Crestview resident Shamira Hayes, 29, said she believes young people should recognize Black History Month's importance and Carver-Hill School's significance.
"My goal is trying to get more people, as far as a younger generation, involved with this," the society member said. "There are a lot of older people that (oversee) this society, and the thing is you want to keep the history of Carver-Hill going."
She hopes to pass the legacy to her 4-year-old daughter, Alise.
"If you get them involved at this age or younger, they are going to remember and pass this along to their children," Hayes said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.