Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is fast approaching and this year’s events emphasize reaching out to youth, expanding on the theme, “Back to the basics … saving a generation: education, service and integrity.”
“We really thought long and hard about where we wanted to go with this year’s theme,” said Ken Howard, with the Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Association. “A lot of times we feel that integrity gets lost in the shuffle of trying to accomplish great things.”
Howard said upcoming activities will build on last year’s theme of getting back to basics by focusing more on education, community service and integrity.
“There is an obligation for all of us to give back to the community,” he said.
The association’s efforts will also continue past MLK Jr. Day, Howard said.
“We plan to have a youth summit in the March timeframe,” he said. The summit will bring schools, churches and community leaders together to discuss the importance of education and service and “maintaining integrity when times are challenged.”
Continuing Dr. King’s legacy, Howard said, “isn’t going to happen overnight.”
He said it will take the entire community working together to grasp the dream that Dr. King had. Howard said the association hopes to create a climate where youth of all backgrounds feel confident and safe so they won’t turn to gangs and drugs.
Some of the activities will provide an outlet for youth to voice their concerns, Howard said, and to showcase their talent.
“Those young kids tend to listen to each other,” he said.
A musical narrative “If my people” produced by Love-It Productions, will kick off the MLK Jr. Day weekend celebration on Friday, Jan. 14, Howard said.
“The combination of strong narration, song, dance and prayer is the fabric of this narrative,” said Donald Lovette, playwright and founder of Love-It Productions. “The goal of the narrative is to inspire the audience to join a new movement dedicated to the cause of saving our youth.”
Lovette said the production is based on Scripture, 2 Chronicles 7:14, and is “designed to be highly participatory.”
“Familiar songs of the church have been selected to invite the audience to join in freely,” he said. “The opening song is the familiar Negro spiritual ‘Kum Ba Yah.’
“Performed by the Liberty County Chorale and the St. Luke Praise Dancers, it will be a moving introduction to the production. Intertwined in the production are several words of Dr. King that speak to the hope for a new day supported by songs sung during the Civil Rights Movement. The final song, a Ghana praise song, ‘Unto the Lord be all the Glory,’ will require those in the audience to join the praise dancers in the dance; almost reminiscent of the ring shout native to Coastal Georgia,” Lovette said.
The annual leadership breakfast will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at Dorchester Center in Midway. Later that evening, at 6 p.m. Youth Explosion will be held at Bethel AME Church.
The annual MLK Day parade will start at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 17. The parade winds through downtown Hinesville. Howard said there is a $35 entry fee this year.
“All proceeds from entry fees and sponsorships (go to) support the celebration and scholarship fund,” according to the city of Hinesville’s website.
Following the parade, a commemorative program will be held at Bradwell Institute, Howard said. The Rev. C.D. Roberts of Elim Baptist Church in Augusta is scheduled to speak.
The association is also holding a county-wide coloring contest for kindergarten, first- and second-grade students, a poster contest for students in third through fifth grades, an essay contest for students in sixth through eighth grades and a multimedia contest for high school students. All entries, from Liberty County School System, private and Fort Stewart schools, are due today at 4 p.m. and should be submitted to Nicole Carter at Waldo Pafford Elementary. Winning entries will be displayed at the youth program Jan. 15.
Fort Stewart will hold a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, at Club Stewart. Savannah Mayor Otis S. Johnson will speak. Winn Army Community Hospital is hosting the event. For more information, call Alvin Banks at 767-5850.
For more information on the parade, call 876-5276.