CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs held the annual Ecumenical Service in Charleston Monday to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

Dr. Elisha Lewis

Dr. Elisha Lewis, a professor at the West Virginia State University’s Education Department, served as this year’s keynote speaker during the event at the state Culture Center.

Lewis said West Virginians need to make non-violence their guiding light for a more just world.

“Together in our commitment to non-violence, we can break down walls of hatred and build a society rooted in respect, quality and love,” she said.

Lewis, a Louisiana native residing in Charleston, was crowned Mrs. West Virginia America 2021. She advocates for underrepresented students and actively engages in community service projects and mentoring to support their college, career and life success.

During her speech Lewis often quoted Dr. King and his vision for equality.

“In the words of Dr. King, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that’,” she said. “May we be the bearers of that light and love committed to creating a cultural climate where justice and equality flourish.”

Jacqueline Proctor

Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner of the state Bureau of Senior Services, echoed those words during her opening remarks before announcing the recipient of The Scholarship Award.

“Making sure that we as individual citizens, collectively as a state and as a community ensure that we help follow and solicit non-violent behavior as Dr. King would in the resolution of all issues and problems,” she said.

The Scholarship Award is presented to someone who embody the principles and ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. in their commitment to social change. This year’s recipient is Dr. Rosetta Lee, principal of Suncrest Elementary School in Morgantown.

“Dr. Lee was nominated by the superintendent of Monongalia County Schools, Eddie Campbell, Jr., who stated that Mrs. Lee is a dedicated and accomplished individual who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and excellence in the field of education,” Proctor said.

A bell ringing ceremony was held after the service at the state Capitol Monday morning.