bildeFor close to 30 years, the Tri-County Organization’s Coalition Inc. has been in the forefront in keeping the message and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. alive.

One way is through its annual banquet on the national celebration of the slain civil rights leader’s birthday. The banquet returns for its 27th year Monday evening at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

The theme of the event remains, as in the past, “From a Dream to a Reality — The Challenge,” to ensure that King’s vision remains in the public consciousness.

“It’s a theme that never changes because we always hope we can continue to improve on our relationship with the community in our 28th year,” said Jesse T. Ballard, the organization’s president. “It’s been slow, but it has been continuous. In order to make a change, you have to do it from the inside (rather) than from the outside. If we take this geographic region where we are at, then we can see it, expand and take it to the outer limits.”

Headlining this year’s event as guest speaker will be University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Juliette B. Bell. Ballard said Bell was a perfect choice to make the keynote address due to both her profession and her age.

“One of the main things is that she’s is not that old agewise, so she fits into what we were looking for as to how far the dream has trickled down,” Ballard said. “She’s also the third university president we have had speak, and who has a greater influence than a university president?” Read Full