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MLK events abound as famous march, speech to turn 50

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Jan. 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm with No Comments »
January 17, 2013 2:57 pm

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Community gatherings commemorating the federal observance of King’s birthday will focus on those defining moments in the civil rights movement of that decade.

They are:

• The largest event will be the city of Tacoma’s 25th annual birthday celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at a new location, the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, 1550 Broadway.

The event has always been held at the Tacoma Dome exhibition hall but was moved because organizers expect a larger-than-normal crowd due to this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Clayborne Carson, said city spokeswoman Maria Lee. The new location provides visitors better access to restaurants and shops and other holiday events in the vicinity, she said.

“It gives people the opportunity to participate in all these other events, as well as the premier city event at the convention center,” she said. “It’s just easier for attendees overall.”

Carson is executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

Carson, who participated in the March on Washington, contributed to the initial design of the King memorial in the nation’s capitol, and King’s widow selected him to edit and publish his papers.

He is regarded as one of the nation’s top authorities on the work of the slain civil rights leader.

The event is free, but visitors are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food for a food drive.

For more information, click here.

• Bates Technical College students and staff and community members will begin their traditional march to the celebration at 10 a.m. The marchers will gather at 9 a.m. for refreshments at Bates’ downtown campus on 11th Street and Yakima Avenue. A shuttle will return the marchers to the campus following the event.

Bates’ own program will be held from 11:30 a.m to 1 p.m. Friday at the college’s South Campus Auditorium, 2201 S. 78th St. in Tacoma.

The program will focus on the march and King’s speech. Spoken word poet Lucas Smiraldo, also known as Vanilla Soul, and Dr. Moses Harris, local activist and a leader from the civil rights era, will be featured.

For more information, click here.

• Monday’s holiday events will begin with the unity breakfast at the University of Washington Tacoma starting at 8 a.m. at the William W. Philip Hall on campus, 1900 Commerce St.

Carolyn McKinstry, who survived the September 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four young girls and marked a turning point in the civil rights movement, will be the keynote speaker.

McKinstry has spent her professional life working to preserve the church and contributing to other social justice causes.

The price to register before Monday is $15 for people ages 11 and older, and $5 from children 10 and younger. It’s $20 for all ages to register at the door Monday.

Pre-registration is available by clicking here.

• The city of Lakewood will hold its 10th annual event from 10 a.m to noon Saturday at the Sharon McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd. Admission and parking are free.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “World War II: Discrimination at Home, Patriotism Abroad.”

Featured speakers include Sam Mitsui, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and two famed Tuskegee Airmen, retired Col. Al Knight and retired Lt. Col. Ed Drummond. Representatives of the World War II Phillipine Scouts will also be on hand. Lakewood city councilman Mary Moss will make welcoming remarks. Entertainment includes gospel singing, music and a reading by the winner of the Clover Park School District’s essay contest.

Phil Raschke, a member of the organizing committee, said it wanted to take a different tack as prior celebrations had focused on King’s life.

He said it’s presents an opportunity for residents to hear firsthand from World War II veterans, who are dying out at a rate of more than 600 a day, according to one federal count. They “wanted to serve patriotically and did serve patriotically under adverse conditions at home, and we wanted to honor that,” he said.

For more information, click here.

• Saint Martin’s University in Lacey will hold its celebration from 6 p.m to 7:30 p.m. Friday  at the Norman Worthington Conference Center on campus.

The event will feature a Southern-style dinner and remarks by Tyler Calvi, the university’s student body president, and Dr. Roy Heynderickx, the university’s president. The event is free to the public.

A performance by spoken word poet Chas Jackson will round out the evening.

For more information, click here.

• The University of Puget Sound’s celebration will occur Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Schneebeck Concert Hall on campus.

John Carlos, an Olympian whose Black Power salute with another athlete on the podium of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City garnered international attention,  will give a free talk. He also is a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

Students, staff and faculty members will spend the day Monday volunteering to assist more than 15 organizations.

For more information, click here.

• The Conversation, a South Sound grass roots group committed to social justice, will hold an interfaith service and program from 2:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m. Sunday with a reception to follow afterward.  It will be held at Urban Grace — The Downtown Church, located at 902 Market St.

Dr. Dexter Gordon, professor of African-American Studies at UPS, will return as keynote speaker. There will be theatrical performance, gospel singing, and drumming. An awards ceremony will recognize local residents for their leadership in social justice causes.

For more information, click here.

You’re invited to follow Christian Hill on Twitter @TNTchill.

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