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'If you can’t be a sun, be a star': MLK Dinner celebrates children as future of York

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

In her youth, Carol Hill-Evans was often bullied for her size.

"I was a little skinny, scrawny kid," Hill-Evans reminisced. "So I learned to run and — I became the fastest person in the school. As I was growing up, those feelings of inadequacy, the feeling of not being accepted and the feeling of not being good enough resonated with me."

The nagging, self-deprecating voice in the back of her head gave Hill-Evans all the push she needed to pursue beyond her realm of possibility. Hill-Evans, who delivered a speech in front of 200 people on Sunday, now represents the 95th District in the state House of Representatives.

"As I go around and speak to the children, I say to them: if a little Black girl that grew up in the 600 block of South Queen Street in the City of York can rise to the level of state representative — anything is possible," she said.

Hill-Evans served as the keynote speaker during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner celebration at Lincoln Charter School; this year's theme revolved around "feeding the dream."

And what better analogy for feeding the dream than striving to feed our future, said master of ceremonies Gerald Proctor Sr. during the dinner celebration.

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A number of Lincoln Charter students read aloud some of King’s most notable quotes. 

“If you can’t be a sun, be a star. Be the best of wherever you are,” one child read aloud with the help of Rob Catten, CEO of Lincoln Charter. 

Each child finished off their quote with a resounding applause from community members, parents and educators. 

"There's a legacy at Lincoln Charter School of community events," Catten told The York Dispatch. "To me, I can't think of a better way to kick off the biggest event of the year, and of the new year, than with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr."

Each year, Lincoln Charter's MLK dinner revolves around a specific theme with inspirational messaging to accompany it.

Lincoln Charter School hosts its Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dinner at the school in York City, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Catten interpreted this year's theme of "feeding the dream" in his own way.

"To me, that means we're really investing in what Martin Luther King Jr. believes as far as being selfless and being out there to support our communities," he said.

During her keynote speech, Hill-Evans outlined specific actionable duties community members of all ages should undertake.

For children specifically, that means getting an education.

"The only thing you have to do is get your education," Hill-Evans said. "Get your education, at any cost."

For adults, meanwhile, Hill-Evans emphasized the importance of being an informed voter and getting involved with programs that speak to them.

"If there's ever anything that I can do as a state representative or just as an adult, if there's anything I can do, I am here to serve and I'm here to serve you," Hill-Evans said. "Keep up the good work. Keep fighting the good fight. Don't ever give up."