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First woman and African American to become pastor at National Baptist Memorial Church in D.C. speaks at William Jewell College

“I dropped by here today just to give some encouraging words to you today...keep standing your ground,” said Rev. Kasey Jones, the Senior Pastor at National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington D.C.

She is the first woman and African American to become pastor there, and this morning, she was the keynote speaker at William Jewell College.

Monday, the school held its community celebration in the school's Gano chapel.

It's the 33rd year of the gathering in honor of Dr. King.

“I'm here to pay my respects to Martin Luther King Jr. It's his day, and for thanking for what he's done for us in the past, so we can be where we're at now,” said Larry Fitzgerald, a student who attended.

“I think it's definitely important just to remind people, especially in an age like today where there's so much violence going on, to really love each other,” said Patrick Whelan, another student.

Students at William Jewell College joined parents, teachers, and their peers in the celebration.

“What people realize now, with days like today, without MLK, who knows where we'd be? And who knows how African Americans would be living in America today? So I like the way that this acts as a reminder for things like that,” Whelan added.

They sang, they danced, and they gave awards. But Rev. Jones was he main attraction.

“So if you're sitting here in this place, and you have not been well thought of, that you have felt forgotten, I just want you to know today that God has not forgotten about you,” Jones said.

She used the bible story of David and Goliath as the basis for her speech, encouraging the audience to keep fighting the good fight.

“You've been holding the line. You've been doing the work for 10 years, for 20 years, for 50 years, fighting the good fight. We've got to make sure that we create space for those coming behind us to find their space and their place in the movement,” Jones said.

She also talked about the importance of standing your ground without violence, just as King preached.

Those in attendance said she's an inspiration to everyone, especially women and African Americans.

“I think it's amazing because anything is possible; it gives little girls role models to look up to, and everyone is equal as one, as MLK said before,” Fitzgerald said.

“Just seeing that kind of stuff makes people step forward more, and be more ambitious, because they see someone else do it before them, and it`s really like a pioneer effect, and they can take those strides themselves,” Whelan said.