For the past 37 years, city officials and community leaders have gathered together to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Every year they gather at the Carl Parker Center in Port Arthur to give awards and recognition to those who faithfully serve throughout the community. This year, Provost Umphrey attorney James Payne, was invited to be the keynote speaker for his second time. A Port Arthur native, he was honored to receive the opportunity to speak and said, “I think the community has suffered great repercussions after Hurricane Harvey and the community needs to celebrate, and this is a day we can come together, hold hands and just celebrate the fact that we made it over".
James Payne has been serving as an attorney for over 20 years and is an active member of his community. He is very active in several social and civic organizations, he is a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (served as 2014 Grand Sire/National President). Payne developed the nationally recognized Buy 90 Campaign which was designed to economically empower the African American community in Southeast Texas. Payne is highly sought after as a motivational speaker by many organizations, schools and churches.