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Locals celebrate Obama's presidency, legacy of MLK

Jan. 21, 2013 @ 11:48 PM

HUNTINGTON — Huntington residents reflected on the meaning behind Monday's presidential inauguration on the day historically reserved to honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Several gathered to watch the inauguration festivities on televisions set up at Calvary Baptist Church, located at 8th Avenue and 9th Street in Huntington, following a march through Huntington to remember King and his dream of equality, unity and cooperation.

The Rev. Franklin Murphy Sr. pastors the church. He viewed Monday as the closing of two parentheses, beginning with Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and ending with President Barack Obama's presidency.

The president's election, and now re-election, caused him to bubble with pride after having witnessed the turbulence the civil rights era.

"It just restored my hope," Murphy said.

Kirk Gillenwater, a former member of Huntington City Council, was among those who marched to Calvary Baptist Church in recognition of King's holiday. He said the inauguration further brings King's dream to fruition.

"Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream that we all walk hand in hand," Gillenwater said. "By this being the second term, it just goes to show that we're moving toward the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, by a man being judged not only by his color, but by the content of his character."

Isaiah Nelson, 73, of Huntington, is a retired Marine twice wounded from his service in Vietnam. He watched Monday's inauguration with a vivid memory.

"I think it's a great privilege to see this," he said, calling Obama a good man who he viewed as equal to all. "It can bring tears to my eyes a little bit because I can remember some of the stuff we went through 50 years ago."

Huntington councilwoman Sandra Clements also watched the inauguration from a pew at Calvary Baptist. She hopes Obama's second term will bring true unity, something she was saddened not to see achieved in his first four years.

"I think it's a wonderful feeling," she said. "It's good to see even though we may disagree, that they come out and support and be a part of this grand, historic occasion."

Earl Jeter, 59, of Huntington, marched in Monday's event and spoke of unity in describing Monday as a great day because of Obama being a great president.

"Our president isn't just for different people," he said. "He's for all people. He's for every black, Chinese, Puerto Rican. He's for everybody."

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.

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