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Ready to celebrate MLK and his day
Parade, ceremony is Jan. 16
CMK 1690
A float in the 2016 MLK Parade in Hinesville. The 2017 MLK city parade is Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. in downtown Hinesville. - photo by File photo

Long County observance

The Long County MLK Jr. Parade will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 in Ludowici. Following the parade the observance ceremony will take place. Look for more info next week.

Liberty County is getting ready to celebrate a man who exemplified equality, justice and turning those qualities into action — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.— with events leading up to the nationwide day of recognition Jan. 16.

To kick things off, Sigma Theta Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. of Hinesville will sponsor the county’s first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 5K Run/Walk on Jan. 7.

Registration will be onsite starting at 6:30 a.m. with a fee of $35. The 5K for runners begins at 8 a.m. and for walkers at 8:15 a.m.

The start and finish line will be in downtown Hinesville near Zumrosen Hof German Restaurant.

Samuel Wilson, fraternity member and event organizer, said, "MLK was an Alpha and this is our way of doing something for our brother to commemorate and celebrate him. We wanted to do something special in his honor."

The money raised will be used to give scholarships to high school seniors.

Wilson said the scholarships are for any senior, male or female, who meet the requirements.

He encouraged community members to come out and support the event as well as participate.

Every year the Liberty County MLK Observance Committee hosts a weekend of events leading up to MLK Day and this year will be much the same.

Love-It Productions will do a dramatic presentation, Jan. 13, featuring the Liberty County Mass Male Choir, starting at 7 p.m. at Live Oak Church of God.

Saturday Jan. 14, will begin with the annual Leadership and Grand Marshal Breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Historic Dorchester Academy.

Dorchester Academy, originally founded as a school for freed slaves after the Civil War, was later used for citizen-education workshops, during which more than 2,000 grassroots leaders, including Dr. King, from around the South were trained and sent out into the world to educate others on their legal rights.

Dorchester also served as the planning site for the 1963 Birmingham campaign.

The breakfast will consist of foods that were similar to what was served at Dorchester during its time as an education hub. There will be a passing of the torch ceremony where the grand marshal from the 2016 MLK parade, former Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, will pass on the duties to the new marshal.

Saturday evening is the King Musical Extravaganza at Live Oak Church, starting a 6 p.m. and doors opening at 5:30.

It is sponsored by the youth division of the MLK Committee. It will be hosted by Bishop Israel Aaron Cowart of Live Oak and Elder Anthony K. Johnson.

Johnson, who has been in charge of the youth event for the past seven years, said the night usually involves various youth groups and organizations coming together to showcase their talent.

"This year we wanted to really do something different and at the same time still involve our young people," Johnson said. "Canton Jones is one of gospel music’s most popular, most relevant artists — his focus is young people. He is a phenomenal artist and we reached out to him. People that will come can expect a high energy night of praise and worship in the arts."

There will be performances by local groups as well as SLM Ministries’ Shannon Lecounte.

"One of the highlights is a community choir comprised of almost 20 churches coming together that night. We want to display a sign of unity and togetherness and that’s what the night is all about," Johnson said.

Johnson said every year youth night is a well-attended event no matter the location.

"We’re really excited about it. People are coming as far as South Carolina and Florida to be a part of something in Liberty County. It’s exciting to know that people are coming here to experience something on this level," he said.

All donations raised during weekend activities will go toward the committee’s MLK 2017 Scholarship Fund for local high school seniors.

"The overall goal is to raise money and help young people go to college, and to make the dream of going to college a reality," Johnson said. "We’re glad to be able to make this free and open to the public. Irregardless of age, or what church you’re affiliated with or color, we want everybody to come to this event."

The annual MLK city parade will take place Jan. 16 in downtown Hinesville at 10 a.m.

Following the parade there will be a commemorative service in the Bradwell Institute gymnasium at noon, with featured guest, Rev. Thurmond N. Tillman of First African Baptist Church in Savannah.

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