Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech still resonates today. His legacy of fighting for equality with nonviolent civil disobedience has stood the test of time and still inspires the masses today—as evidenced by Moral Mondays and the outpouring of support from across the country for the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner last year.
For over 10 years now, the MLK Celebration Committee, NAACP, Ministerial Roundtable, UNCW, Wilmington Minority Professional Network Group, and Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department have been putting together events to commemorate the reverend’s bold actions and lasting footprint on society. “We aim to show how Dr. King’s dream has become a reality and the fact that we can all celebrate his legacy together,” Hollis Briggs, chairman of the MLK Celebration Committee, expresses.
Here’s a preview of all the events occurring in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s honor throughout the week. For more information, please, visit www.mlkcelebration-senc.com.
A Night at the Theatre
Red Barn Studio Theatre
1122 S. 3rd St.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Techmoja Dance and Theatre Company and Kevin Green, son of the late Donna Green, will be putting on a production of “The Mountaintop” at Red Barn Studio Theatre. Written by American playwright Katori Hall, the play chronicles a fictionalized, intimate account of Reverend Martin Luther King’s final hours. “The Mountaintop” premiered in 2009 at Theatre 503 in London and went on to win the Olivier Best New Play Award. Folks can catch the play during its two-night run: Wednesday, January 14 and Thursday, January 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 each night.
Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Banquet
CFCC Union Station, 502 N. Front St.
For nearly five years now, the MLK Celebration team has been holding a banquet to commemorate the reverend’s lasting legacy. This year’s event will be held on Friday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the CFCC Union Station. There will be a silent auction and live music by the Doug Irving Trio, a local jazz outfit. Honorable guest and keynote speaker for this year’s banquet will come from Kenneth Spaulding, who currently is vying for the governor’s seat in North Carolina for the 2016 election. As well, the recipients of the Citizen Award and Public Service Award also will be announced. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased at the door or by calling Briggs at (910) 763-4138.
NAACP MLK Breakfast
UNCW Warwick Center
The 12th annual NAACP MLK Breakfast will be held this Saturday, January 17, at 9 a.m. Originally from Oxford, NC, Rev. Benjamin Chavis will give an address during the event.
The civil rights crusader, who began working toward equality in 1963 while working for Martin Luther King Jr. as a youth coordinator, has acquired national attention over the years. Locally, Chavis was part of the Wilmington 10, a group of civil-rights activists convicted in 1971 for arson and conspiracy charges. All those convicted have since been pardoned by former Governor Beverly Perdue.
Likewise, he’s served as Southern regional program director of the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice (UCC-CRJ), vice president of National Council of Churches of the USA, executive director of the NAACP, executive director and CEO of the National African American Leadership Summit, as well as co-founding the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
Currently, president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and president of Education Online Services Corporation. Tickets to the breakfast ($25) have sold out.
Family Fun Day
William E. Murphy Sports Complex
401 S. 8th St.
Presented by the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department, enjoy a family-friendly batch of festivities to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Kicking off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 17, the William E. Murphy Sports Complex will come alive with a host of fun, such as games, face-painting booths, science exhibits, fire truck displays, and more. There will be a SABLE helicopter onsite, too. Folks can pursue while nomming on refreshments provided by Precinct 29. Admission to the event is free.
The Ecumenical Service
B’Nai Israel Synagogue
2601 Chestnut St.
Hosted by the Ministerial Roundtable, Reverend Wayne Johnson, pastor of St. Stephen A.M.E. Church, will deliver an address to attendees. The service will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 18.
CFCC Schwartz Center, 601 N. Front St.
Coordinated by local humanitarian Frankie Pollock Jr., the Historically Black College or University (HBCU) Experience will take place for its second year. The day will feature a head-to-head marching-band challenge, featuring Elizabeth City State University and North Carolina Central University. There will be a slew of college recruiters onsite to dole out enrollment information. Advanced tickets are $10 (www.hbcuexperience.org); they are $20 at the door.
“It has had a tremendous impact on the community,” Briggs details. “The idea is for some high-school students to get excited and attend college: So far, three kids from Wilmington are currently enrolled in the Elizabeth City State University Band.”
The MLK Jr. Memorial Parade
Historic Downtown Wilmington
Featuring nearly 120 units, the annual MLK Jr. Parade will kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 19. Beginning on Third Street between Brunswick and Hanover streets, the parade will progress toward Princess Street. Consisting of bands, floats, horses, clowns, motorcycles, and more, the parade will continue east on Princess Street, and head back turn on Fourth Street, returning to cross-section between Brunswick and Hanover streets.
“The parade has grown in participation as well as spectators [since 2002],” Briggs declares. “I would say 10,000 people watch and participate.”
Martin Luther King Celebration with Dr. Angela Davis
Kenan Auditorium, UNCW
Join UNCW as they host speaker Dr. Angela Davis on Tuesday, January 20, at 7 p.m. Born in the hotbed of the South in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis earned her Ph.D. at Homboldt University and has made a name for herself through political activism, scholarship, and as an author. Davis has championed feminism, civil rights and Marxism throughout her impressive career. Tickets are free and can be procured at the Kenan Box Office. For more information, call (910) 962-3500.