Martin Luther King Jr. Day Banquet, parade to mark day

Published 7:43 pm Friday, January 16, 2009

The late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s 80th birth anniversary will be celebrated locally with a Saturday banquet and full day of activities on Monday.

The Decatur County NAACP is holding its Martin Luther King holiday banquet tonight starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Hutto Middle School cafeteria. William Ross said the program will simply be a video presentation of Dr. King’s speeches.

On Monday, Jan. 19, MLK Jr. Day will be observed with a parade beginning from the Decatur County Courthouse on Water Street in Bainbridge.

Longtime Bainbridge City Councilman Luther Conyers will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. Lineup for the parade begins at 8 a.m. outside the courthouse’s Water Street entrance. Floats, walkers, bikers and others are encouraged to participate.

An opening ceremony will take place outside the courthouse at 9:45 a.m., and marchers will parade to the Pilgrim Rest M.B. Church, where the Rev. Adolph Noble Sr., will give a prayer.

The parade will be followed by a memorial program at 11:30 a.m. at Hutto Middle School on MLK Jr. Drive.

The guest speaker at the memorial program will be the Rev. Kelvin D. Wells, a Bainbridge High School teacher, revivalist and motivational speaker. He graduated with honors from Bainbridge High School in 1993 and graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College in 1998. He is the founding pastor at Christ Tabernacle Church in Bainbridge.

Government leaders, clergy and many other members of the community are expected to be in attendance at the memorial program.

Obama: observe holiday through community service

President-elect Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on Jan. 20, is asking Americans to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service.

Unlike past calls to service, President-elect Obama is calling on all Americans to do more than just offer a single day of service to their cities, towns and neighborhoods. He is asking them to make an ongoing commitment to their communities.

For more information, people may visit usaservice.org online.

Holiday closings

Closed for MLK Jr. Holiday will be Decatur County schools, Grace Christian Academy, Bainbridge College, Gilbert H. Gragg Library, Decatur County and City of Bainbridge government offices. State and federal offices will also be closed, as will financial institutions. The Decatur County Landfill on U.S. 27 South and county emergency services will continue to operate on Monday.

MLK Jr. was prominent civil rights leader

On Jan. 15, 1929, King—a black civil rights leader, minister, advocate of nonviolence was born in Atlanta, Ga. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968. The first MLK Jr. public holiday, observed on the third Monday in January under U.S. law, was observed in 1986.

King received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation through civil disobedience and other non-violent activism. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and a Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

King helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a political rally that drew more than quarter million people onto the National Mall under the theme of “jobs, justice and peace.” On Aug. 28, 1963, the marchers heard King deliver his historic “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Regarded as one of the best American speeches, King’s address called for racial equality and is remembered for the phrases of “I have a dream” and his hope that all mankind would one day be able to join together singing, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”