Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 29, 2012

Program to feature keynote speaker

The Dr. Martian Luther King program will feature speaker William Jenkins

By RORYE O’CONNOR
rorye.oconnor@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — The 2013 NAACP of Jefferson County annual Dr. Martin Luther King program will be held Jan. 21 with the theme “In Pursuit of the Dream through Educating the Community.”

The event will be held at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn. The keynote speaker for the upcoming event will be William Jenkins, an author and educator who lives in St. Louis, said Jefferson County NAACP President the Rev. W. Ron Lash.

“His approach is change through education,” Lash said. “His books that he writes are specifically directed toward education, not only for African-American children, but the school system and the needs of the community as far as education goes.”

Jenkins was born in Greenville, Miss., in 1943, growing up during a turbulent time in American history, information from his website, www.jenkinsedex.com, states. He graduated from Jackson State College in Jackson, Miss., in 1968, and “almost from the day of graduation” was pulled into the Civil Rights movement, information states.

“Having been called to the ministry while I was still in high school, I assumed a leadership role in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the sixties,” information states. “I lectured at colleges and universities all over America. During that same period I hosted a radio program, ‘The Search For Human Dignity,’ that could be heard in 14 Southern states.”

Jenkins left Mississippi in 1973, attending Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary, later settling in mid-Missouri as a minister in Fulton and Columbia, Mo. He moved to St. Louis in 1978 and began teaching in the public school system, before transferring to the Parkway school district.

“I taught at Parkway North High School, a predominately white school,” information states. “As fate would have it, the year I started teaching in the Parkway school district, the district became involved in a court-imposed desegregation program that bussed black children from St. Louis city to the predominantly white schools in West St. Louis County.”

Jenkins was the only black teacher at the school, he wrote, so he felt a special obligation to do everything he could to ensure that the black children coming into the district got the best education available.

“It was during my work at Parkway North that I learned and practiced many of the techniques and strategies that I have written about in my books and teach others how to employ in my workshops,” he wrote on his website. “I still see myself as a Civil Rights worker. The Civil Rights Movement has now moved to the classroom.”

Jenkins wrote he believes that black children must get a quality education in order to function as independent and contributing citizens in this society.

“I am as passionate about the education of black children today as I was about the voting rights of their grandparents in the sixties,” information states.

The Jefferson County NAACP will present Freedom Awards to members of the community and Academic Achievement Awards to area students, Lash said.

“We haven’t made any selections as of yet, but all of the awards will be the same format,” he said.

To purchase tickets, contact any NAACP Jefferson County Branch member, or call Ron Lash at 241-9004, Cleo Holt at 214-8257, or Elbert Cain at 237-8161.