MLK Center Celebrates Founders, Looks to Future - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

MLK Center Celebrates Founders, Looks to Future

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As thousands marched in Washington, D.C., people here gathered at Erie's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center.

Founding members met with current board members to discuss how the center will move forward, and continue to preserve Dr. King's legacy.

Mazie Purdue recalls a time when Erie was segregated.

"I remember that it was just black neighborhoods in Erie, blacks could not live on West 6th Street," she said.

She's one of the founding members of the MLK Center. She joined six of her colleagues from decades past at the center's "Incorporator's Luncheon" on Saturday.

Many people seated around the table were there when the first bricks of the building were laid in 1969.

At that time, they still battled racism in Erie, but just as Dr. King had a dream for our country, they had a dream for our city.

"When we built the center we made it completely interracial," said Purdue, "we didn't just have it for black folks or African Americans we had it for the whole community."

Board member and Treasurer Yvonne Horn organized the luncheon. She spoke about how the center has helped all people in Erie.

"For one thing they have a day care very a good day care, that's probably one of their premier programs that they have here," said Horn. "They've had in the past a housing program where they were able to offer individuals homes who maybe had never owned a home...  we have after school programs where the kids can come, in fact in the summer kids were here almost all day long."

The meeting fell just shy of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech."

Mazie was at the March on Washington, in 1963. She heard Dr. King make his famous declaration.

"It really excited me to be in the midst of that time," said Purdue. "What really interested me was the quietness, it was hundreds and hundreds of cars there, busses rolled up, it was remarkable."

Current board members continue the vision of the founders, and the legacy of Dr. King's message of equality.

"I think until we get to the point where there is equality and opportunity as far as jobs are concerned, as far as being able to afford housing, as far as being able to get an education, I think there's always gonna be a need for centers such as this," said Horn.

The official anniversary of the March on Washington is Wednesday, August 28.

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