Sandy Springs City Hall, Council Chambers; Monday January 18, 2016 10:00am. The Tenth Annual Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Tillie O'Neal-Kyles.
The city of Sandy Springs awarded its. 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award to Tillie O’Neal-Kyles.

Members of Spalding Drive Charter Elementary School’s show choir sang and both a politician and a preacher called for people to get involved in their communities as Sandy Springs held its 10th annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

During the event, the city awarded its annual Humanitarian of the Year Award to Tillie  O’Neal-Kyles, CEO and founder of Every Woman Works, a nonprofit that provides helps  achieve financial independence, personal growth and family leadership.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves delivers the keynote address at Sandy Springs’ 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves, keynote speaker for the event at Sandy Springs City Hall, said it was “time for us to demonstrate acts of courage” to improve our communities. He also called for parents to be more involved with their children.

“We as parents have to do all we can to reclaim the lives of young people,” he said. “We as parents have to get involved in our schools.”

Eaves pointed out that large numbers of African-American males were jailed or imprisoned in the United States and said that was a regional problem, too. He said more people were held in the five large jails in the metro Atlanta area than were held in New York City’s jails. Six years ago, he said, about 48,000 people went through the Fulton County Jail, but with diversion programs and other projects the number had dropped to 28,000.

“We are a diverse county …,” he said. “Diversity is what brings about positive change.”

Following Eaves talk, Henry Bush, the lead pastor at Sharon Baptist Church, challenged residents to take action to keep voices on social media from teaching children to hate. “Silence also approves,” he said. “Silence approves. If I’m quiet and I laugh at the joke, it means I approve.”

He challenged residents “to start making a difference each and every day.”

Fifth grader Sasha Graham sings a solo backed by other members of the Spalding Drive Charter Elementary show choir, including Valentina Cruz, at left, Katie Johnson, at rear.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.