The Scottsboro Boys Museum hosted its annual community Martin Luther King, Jr. Day program Monday at Greater St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Over 80 people attended the program which was filled with songs, poems and celebrations of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The guest speaker for the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day program is LaFrederick M. Thirkill. Thirkill is a native of Chattanooga, Tenn. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

He later earned both a M.A. and Ed. S. in Instructional Leadership and Supervision from Tennessee Technological University. After nine years as a music teacher and four years as an assistant principal, Thirkill was appointed principal of Orchard Knob Elementary School in 2012.

Recognized as the first teacher to earn a National Board Certification while working in Hamilton County schools, Thirkill was named the 2013 Hamilton County PTA Elementary Principal of the Year and Hamilton County Education Association’s Distinguished Administrator of the Year.

He was also named the 2014 East Tennessee Distinguished Administrator of the Year by the Tennessee Education Association.

He has also received many other awards and recognition for his continued advocacy and support for schools, teachers, students and parents. He has been featured in local and national newspapers, magazines and journals for his work in education.

His work as a leader and educator extended beyond the walls of the school, where Thirkill is recognized for his work as a community activist, historian, musician, composer, actor, playwright and public speaker. He believes that it is his daily responsibility to make purposeful contributions that enhance the quality of life for others.

As principal of Orchard Knob Elementary School, Thirkill has demonstrated effective leadership that is evident in the continued increase of academic achievement, teacher retention, student attendance and increased parent/community partnerships and involvement. He is honored to serve as principal of Orchard Knob Elementary School and proud to be a resident in the community he serves.

Thirkill used King’s “A Knock at Midnight” speech to connect today’s world with that of King’s time. He spoke about how members of the community need to “keep knocking” and stand up for what is right. He also talked about the people who helped him achieve his dreams in life. He also spoke about his work in Chattanooga on the Ed Johnson Project.

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

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