CLINTON — Eighty-nine years after his birth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s messages of peace and justice for all continues to resonate throughout communities all over the country, including Clinton.

Area residents packed Clinton Community College on Sunday to celebrate the life and accomplishments of the famed civil rights activist, who "inspired and continues to inspire us today," according to Sunday's Master of Ceremonies Kathryn Wynn-Calvin.

Those in the packed auditorium shared a soul food meal ahead of the ceremony, a powerful act of togetherness, according to CCC President Karen Vickers, who also said the event aims to bring the massive audience together as "friends, neighbors, and community members."

This, the 30th edition of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Clinton, saw the honoring of two specific community members who have continually exemplified what Dr. King spoke of decades ago.

On Sunday, Lori Freudenberg and Dr. Williams Woods received the MLK Peace and Justice Award together.

"I want to remind you that Dr. King was encouraging you, no he was really challenging you, to remember that you are that light and that love," Freudenberg said regarding one of her favorite quotes from the activist. "Remember that we need to remember to regard that truth and the truth that we all are one, regardless of our skin color, our gender, our politics, our ethnicity, our religion, or our country of origin."

Freudenberg is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton, an organization that speaks out on behalf of oppressed and less-fortunate individuals and groups in the Gateway area.

Woods is a full-time professor in the graduate business program at Ashford University in Clinton, and has been regarded by fellow community members as a champion of "fighting for peace and justice for all," according to award presenter Jennifer Graf.

Woods on Sunday delivered a powerful message to the packed room at CCC.

"Love is free," Woods said bluntly. "It's the only thing in life that doesn't cost you something. It costs you to be born. It costs you to die. It costs you to go to college, or buy a car or a house. But it does not cost you anything to love somebody else. That's what I want you to consider each and every day of your life."

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