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Annual Opp event draws huge crowd

A record crowd gathered in Opp in 37-degree weather Monday morning to march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Locals gathered at the Opp Police Department and marched, rode in golf carts and cars to the Hardin Street Community Center for the annual program.

The Rev. Clyde Tillis served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“We thank God that he sent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to us,” he said. “God is so good.”

Tillis told those gathered that the marches in the 1960s were different than the march participants had on Monday.

Throughout the program, event-goers sang congregational songs.

The Rev. John Lawrence said that God allowed a man (King) to come and do so much for the people.

“We give God all the glory and we can give Dr. King the praise,” he said.

Lawrence read from Psalm 100.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Tillis compared the way of dealing with racial discrimination in the North and the South.

The minister grew up in Ohio.

“We had a different way of looking at it,” he said. “In the North, we were burning up our neighborhoods,” he said. “They were calling in the National Guard and there were curfews.”

In the South, he said, God sent Dr. King .

“Dr. King came with the same spirit as Christ,” he said. “He was jailed, dog bitten, beaten, water hosed.”

King brought the non-violence spirit with him.

“God is God and he has a plan,”  he said.

Opp Mayor Becky Bracke also spoke.

She said that she grew up in 1960s, but saw a different side.

“The violence that took place was rough,” she said. “But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life so that everyone can be whatever you want to be. We should look forward, not backward.”

Councilman LaVaughn Hines said it was the biggest crowd they had ever had.

“There is strength in unity,” he said. “We need to come together for our kids. We have to get with the kids to understand instead of letting them go by the waste side. “

Hines said if you see a young man with his pants sagging, don’t hate on him, but if you see a young man with his pants pulled up, let him know how nice he looks.