UNION COUNTY — A minister who was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina in the 1960s will be the “Speaker of the Hour” at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
The theme for this year’s celebration, which will be held Monday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. at Sims Middle School, will be “Let Freedom Ring… Everywhere.”
In keeping with the theme, the Speaker of the Hour will be civil rights activist the Rev. Robert Devoe.
A biography of Rev. Devoe provided by the Union County NAACP states that “he was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement during the 60s. His picture appears in the history book for the Columbia, S.C., Sit-Ins during the 60s. … Through the years, he has fought for and he continues to fight for people of color in N.C. and across the nation.”
Devoe, who was born in Barnwell County where he attended Four Mile High School during the late 1940s and early 1950s. When the school was forced to close, Devoe transferred to Butler High School in Barnwell and graduated from there in 1953.
After graduating from high school, Devoe spent two years in the military, most of it stationed in Germany.
Upon being discharged from the military, Devoe enrolled in Benedict College in Columbia where he received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He also received a Master’s degree from Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga., and completed the academic requirements for a doctoral program at Erskin Theological Seminary.
His biography states that Devoe “does not dwell on his academic accomplishments, but his focus through the years has been on helping to make life better for mankind/making a difference in the community.”
In addition to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Devoe, who is a lifetime member of the NAACP, has also served the community and humanity as a “gospel preacher, evangelist, and pastor. His pastoral leadership covers more than five decades,” including 11 years as moderator of an association of ministers in North Carolina. Currently, Devoe is the Senior Pastor of the Cannon Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C.
Devoe was married to the late Odessa Threatt of Columbia, S.C., and the couple had three children — Pamela, Drusilla, and Robert Jr.
Also participating in the celebration will be Sally Bowser who will introduce Master of Ceremonies Robert Hill. The Rev. Ronnie McCorey will deliver the Invocation. Jonesville Mayor Ernest Moore will deliver the Greetings. The Rev. A.L. Brackett will introduce Devoe.
Following Devoe’s address, Hill will recognize the ministers and elected officials present. This will be followed by remarks by Union County Councilman Frank Hart, Sims Middle School Principal Mikey Connolly, and City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson.
Joseph Walker will then present special thanks and the Rev. Charles Jennings will conclude the evening with the Benediction and Grace.
Music will also be part of the evening with performances by the Regional All Male Choir, a solo by Breanna Bailey, and a Praise Dance by the Foster Chapel Praise Dance Team. The congregation will help open the evening with the singing of the National Anthem. Musicians performing for the evening will be Jamie Jeter and Rossi Hames.
Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech will be recited by Jamia Hames.