William Joyner Jr. went to the 24th annual Edgecombe Entrepreneur Organization Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. banquet on Saturday to pay homage to the slain civil right leader. What the Tarboro native didn't know was that homage would also be paid to him.
Joyner was the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Citizenship Award. He was noted for his stance against civil right injustices in Tarboro in the 1960's and 1970's. However, Joyner's modesty would not allow him to claim any fame.
"Let me tell you about a man named (the late) Dr. M.A. Ray," Joyner said. If it wasn't for him I would not be here to receive this award. That was the man that took a handful of nobodies from Tarboro, North Carolina and made somebodies out of them ."
The standing room only crowd gave Joyner a standing ovation after his acceptance speech.
Ray, a former mayor of Tarboro, organized the East Tarboro Citizen League which was comprised of African Americans. The league fought the town government for equal opportunities that white residents had. Although Ray was the leader, Joyner and several others stood strong behind him.
For the complete story, see today's print edition of The Daily Southerner.