(Photo by Jennifer Corr)

Glen Cove Will Always Remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every morning of the third Monday in January, youths and adults gather in front of First Baptist Church in Glen Cove to march to Finley Middle School.
And they do this, even though most have a day off from school or work, because it’s important.
The 40th Annual Commemorative Program in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will take place on Jan. 15. Marchers will meet in front of First Baptist Church in Glen Cove at 8:45 a.m. and the program will take place at Finley Middle School at 9:15 a.m. Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to NOSH, a local food pantry and delivery service, as part of MLK Day of Service.
While Jan. 15 will be the 40th annual program hosted by the city and the school district, remembrance ceremonies in honor of Dr. King, Jr. have been held in Glen Cove since he was assassinated in 1968. Sheryl Goodine is the chairwoman of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Commemorative Commission, which organizes the annual event. She explained that her father James Davis, better known as Jimmy Davis, was the president of the Glen Cove Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and had marched with Dr. King, Jr. in the second march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Mississippi and in Alabama. He also carried out voter registration programs for Dr. King, Jr. in the South.
“We never knew if he was going to make it home many times, but my dad really dedicated the majority of his adult life fighting for civil rights and justice for everyone,” Goodine said. “As president of the Glen Cove NAACP, he’d have people of all colors, different ethnicities, different backgrounds come to him when they felt they were discriminated against. So he wasn’t just a proponent of equal rights and equal justice for Black folks but for everyone.”
In 1961, when Goodine was a young child, she was named in a lawsuit filed by the NAACP against Long Island school districts, including Glen Cove, for segregation. The lawsuit led to the district closing South School, predominantly non-white because of its location, and redistributing students to other schools, including the newly opened Gribbin School.
In her 34-plus-year career with the Glen Cove City School District, Goodine worked as a special education teacher, special education administrator, and finally, the assistant principal for Glen Cove High School before retiring.
Goodine explained that Davis also worked to desegregate the fire department and the police department, making sure that the few Black members of the police department had access to promotions.
“Dad dedicated his life,” Goodine said.
One day, Goodine explained, she had asked her father why he was so dedicated to this cause. He told her that when he was volunteering for the army during the Korean War, he and several other recruits, while on the train from Suffolk County, had become fast friends despite the differences in their ethnicities. When the train got to the Washington D.C. area, the sergeant told them that all the Black recruits had to go to the back of the train because in the South, Black and White people could not ride in the same train car.
“My dad said he just couldn’t understand,” Goodine said. “They were all volunteers. They were all willing to give their lives. Shed their blood.”
Shortly after Dr. King, Jr.’s assassination, Davis and members of the city government and just about all the clergy in Glen Cove at the time organized a march that likely took place from Finley Middle School to St. Patrick’s RC Parish Hall.
“I was blessed with the opportunity to speak on behalf of the youth of Glen Cove. So that was the first program,” Goodine, who was 17 or 18 then, said. “After that time, my dad and some other community residents and clergy decided that there needed to be a program in memory of Dr. King to promote his life and his legacy every year. So, between my dad and some clergy, still some of the city government officials at the time, and community residents all got together and for years, they had an annual program. It was held at the different churches and synagogues within Glen Cove.”
Over the years, organizers began having difficulty finding a place to host the event. The city government and the school district opted to support the program by hosting it at Finley Middle School.
“The city government made a way so that we could request police presence and fire department presence so that we no longer needed to solely rely on private citizens, community residents, but now the city government and the school district became the official hosts of the program, and that’s what we celebrate,” Goodine said. “We celebrate the 40th anniversary of the City of Glen Cove and the school district hosting it.”
Allen Hudson III, the principal of Glen Cove High School, said the program has an amazing impact on the students because they’re involved with it through the Glen Cove High School Select Chorale, the Drumline, the GCTV (broadcast club) or just by simply attending.
“As they watch, they’re learning not just about African American history, they’re learning about the history of a man who made an impact on everyone and brought about civil rights for a number of people, not just African Americans,” Hudson said. “They’re learning about the impact between him and Ghandi and others. We have Victoria Crosby who always gives a poem. And there’s always a [different theme every year]. So our students really do learn a lot about what it is to be a great human being.”
AHRC Nassau, an organization in Brookville which serves people with developmental disabilities, has continued to be involved the program. The connection was made when AHRC Nassau’s Chief Executive Officer Stanfort J. Perry was asked to join the Dr. King Commission.
Since then, AHRC Nassau’s community has been speaking at the event, bringing in artwork and providing refreshments through the culinary program at Wheatley Farms, AHRC Nassau’s farm and art center.
“What makes the Glen Cove MLK Commission event so powerful – after 40 years of honoring Dr. King’s legacy – is that it continues to offer a pressing call to action,” Perry said. “The event asks us to consider how we can be of service to each other as individuals and as part of a shared community.”
Hudson, who has been serving as master of the ceremony for 19 years, said the program has continued to be impactful, especially with recent events.
“We try to really keep the program relevant,” Goodine said. “We try to encourage our youths to get involved because they’re the ones who will need to carry the torch to make sure that Dr. King’s life and legacy continue to be celebrated through the generations, especially now with so much of the world being in turmoil.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dr. King Commission had to find a way to continue the legacy while keeping participants safe, so virtual events were held instead. In 2021, participants marched from First Baptist Church to Finley Middle School in November and recorded it so that it could be broadcasted in the 2022 virtual event. Even though restrictions have been lifted, Hudson explained that the programs continue to be live-streamed.
“[Goodine] has done a tremendous job at continuing this legacy,” Hudson said. “I think that it’s great that we’re one of the [communities], especially on Long Island, that has had a program for 40 years. Other communities will have it for a period of time, it kind of dies down. But for 40 consecutive years, we’ve had a program dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, bringing people together for fellowship and enjoying music, dance, poetry.”

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