Loxley group to host march and program


LOXLEY, Alabama — For the 15th straight year, the Loxley Area Martin Luther King Group will hold program beginning with a march up Alabama 59 (Hickory Street) beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20 at the Loxley Church of God, marching to the Loxley Civic Center.

A short program at the Civic Center will follow the march, featuring youth-led singing and readings from King’s writings and speeches. The theme for this year’s program is “Making the dream a REALITY.”

“Now more than ever, we need to come together as Americans,” said Ronnie McBride, who has organized the event since inception. “With all that is going on in the world, we need to recognize that everyone deserves to be treated the same.”

Guest speaker for the event will be Dr. Willie L. Patterson III, chief of the Real Estate Division, Mobile District, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A native of Mobile, Patterson is a graduate of Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University where he received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Alabama. Patterson earned his doctorate in public administration at the University of West Florida.

He joined the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers in Mobile District in 1986 in the Real Estate Division serving 11 years including five years in Birmingham, where he relocated over 500 families in support of a flood control project.

In February 2004, he became the first African American to serve as chief of the Real Estate Division, Mobile District. His previous positions include chief of Acquisition Branch, Real Estate Division in the New Orleans District; Planning and Acquisition program manager, Real Estate Division, North Atlantic Division, Linthicum, Maryland.

Prior to his appointment as chief of the Real Estate Division, Patterson served as chief of Realty Services Division, Real Estate Directorate, Washington, D.C., and later reassigned to chief, Civil Division, Real Estate Directorate in Washington.

His awards and honors include Commander's Award for Civilian Service, HQUSACE Real Estate Director's Awards, New Orleans City Council Proclamation and USSOUTHCOM Letter of Appreciation.

Patterson was recognized as a national expert on relocation assistance; he taught the Corps’ training course for several years and is still sought out for technical guidance pertaining to relocation assistance.

Patterson is the founding pastor of the Redeemed Community Church in Mobile (2009).

He has served in numerous capacities in communities including Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board and little league coach, Executive Board of the Dearborn YMCA and is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated where he serves as the Scholarship chair and a member of the audit team. Patterson is married to Valencia Taylor, and is the father of six, and grandfather of 18 with three additional grandchildren expected in 2020.

Each year, the nationwide Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is held on the third Monday of January to commemorate his birthday on Jan. 15. Introduced as legislation by U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, MLK Day was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Marches held in King’s honor commemorate the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery that created national support for federal voting rights legislation.