Southport’s annual two-day celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. can be credited to founder Walter Welsh. An Episcopal reverend and civil rights activist, Welsh in 1978 became the only white member of the Southport NAACP chapter, and launched a series of interracial study circles. Welsh died in 2006, but Southport’s MLK Celebration Committee carries his legacy forth via the Walter Welsh Award. Yesterday, that torch was passed to Southport’s Musette Steck.
Steck, a lively seventy-six-year-old and Moral Monday crusader, has been known to take her children field-picking to distribute produce among public housing communities, and to rally local schools to create scholarship funds for minority students. A Caucasian native of Enfield—a historically integrated town in Halifax County--Steck says she became sensitive to social inequality when she was just nine years old.
"I confronted the manager of Rose’s Dime Store, and I said ‘Where are the black baby dolls?’ Are they gonna play with the white ones?"
Steck moved to Southport in 1997, where she currently serves as president of the Historical Society. This year, Steck hopes to organize a march between her church and that of last year’s Walter Welsh Award recipient, African-American Carolyn Galloway Price. The march would serve to memorialize Price, who passed away last May.