This year Arlington will mark the silver anniversary of what has become the longest and one of the largest Martin Luther King celebrations in the entire country. What began in 1989 as a one-day event centered on a worship service at First United Methodist Church has grown to a four-day celebration involving thousands of Arlington people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds.
“We are very excited about the upcoming 25th anniversary of the MLK celebration,” said Linh Nguyen, who is co-chairing the event. “It has been a collaborative effort from various organizations to provide events that challenge us not only to reflect upon Dr. King’s dream, but also to fulfill and advance his dream through our actions.”
The kickoff of the festivities, as always, is a banquet, at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Bluebonnet Ballroom at the University of Texas at Arlington, where journalist Roland Martin will be the keynote speaker. Martin is a former CNN political analyst, author and host of News One Now, a one-hour weekday morning news show on TV One.
MLK committee spokeswoman Cheryel Carpenter said the banquet is going to be a little different from years past. “We’ve spent the first 25 years sharing Dr. King’s dream, and to begin the next 25 we want to advance that dream,” she said.
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The emcee will be CBS 11 newscaster Elizabeth Dinh. A return engagement by Adonis Rose and the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra will be a crowd-pleaser.
The milestone anniversary will be marked by the first-ever Living Legend Awards, presented at the banquet to two people who epitomize King’s dream, the civil-rights movement, equality and justice.
Tickets cost $40 and can be bought at www.UTATickets.com.
Three events on Jan. 18 offer something for everyone. The MLK Step Show competition begins at 11:30 a.m.and features some spectacular dance teams. Watch for the location to be announced soon.
Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, at 2100 Southeast Parkway, will host a free multicultural festival starting at 3:30 p.m. featuring cultural entertainment, fashion, food and a viewing of the film Freedom Riders, followed by a community dialogue about the civil-rights struggle.
“An Evening of Spoken Word,” the increasingly popular invitational poetry slam, begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the UTA Bluebonnet Ballroom and will be hosted by award-winning poet Mike Guinn. The winning poet will receive a $1,000 award. Entry fee is $25 and admission is $15. Call 972-704-5001 to inquire.
Sunday’s Hubert Moss Memorial Ecumenical Service features the Rev. Sharon Patterson as keynote speaker at First United Methodist Church of Arlington, 313 N. Center St. at 6 p.m. Patterson is an author, philanthropist and journalist.
A Veterans Breakfast and Opportunity Fair opens the Jan. 20 activities at 9 a.m. at the Maverick Activities Center at UTA. Simultaneously, hundreds of volunteers will gather there to get their assignments for the MLK Day of Service before embarking on the community projects to be completed that day.
A Youth Musical Extravaganza at Fielder Road Baptist Church’s Metro Center, 1323 W. Pioneer Parkway, begins at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 and closes the MLK festivities with a performance by more than 700 area youths.
For details of all events, check out www.ArlingtonMLK.com. Direct inquiries to Carpenter at 817-459-5384.
Martin Luther King to feature banquet, parade & rally
It’s the 29th year for the Fort Worth MLK celebration, and a dedicated board of directors and volunteers have been planning this year’s events for months. The executive committee includes Chairman Robert Jackson, Vice Chairman Tyron Lane, Barbara Sanders-Holland and Maricela Jimenez.
“We want everyone in the city to come out and help us celebrate the man, the dream, the legacy and the opportunity to promote that dream in the lives of people of all color, creed and nationality,” said Lane, pastor of New Creation Church.
The opening event is the Youth Scholarship & Awards banquet on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. The downtown campus of Tarrant County College is the venue for an evening that features keynote speaker State Representative Nicole Collier. Fox Channel 4 news anchor Dionne Anglin will be the master of ceremonies. Tickets are $50 each.
A parade and rally Jan. 20 begins at 11 a.m. downtown. Walkers, decorated vehicles and floats are invited to participate in the annual procession. A new route this year ends in Sundance Square.
Parade Chairman Roderick Miles says the entry fee is $5 and participants can register in advance by mail. Send a check payable to MLK Holiday committee at P.O. Box 3328, Fort Worth, TX 76113 by Jan. 6. Or register in person beginning at 9:30 a.m. on parade day at the corner of Commerce and Ninth streets on the east side of the Convention Center. Contact Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-247-7964.
Don’t miss the MLK Rally immediately after the parade at Sundance Square. The festivities include performances by step groups and dancers along with high school bands and drill teams.
A recent column incorrectly listed names of the 2014 Celebrity Chefs committee members from Mid-Cities Supporters of SafeHaven.
The committee planning the Jan. 19 Celebrity Chefs event includes co-chairs Tara Hutchins-Welsh and Katie White along with Alma Barry, Kathy Rynearson, Fonda Martin, Mary MacDowell, Beth Battles, Patti Campbell, Mary Hubbard, Renny Hostetler, Martha Ragsdale, Deanna Stuart, Jodie Munsie, Sally Bustamante, Stephanie Drenka, Laurel Harty, Anna Saunders, Lisa Tapper, Linda Timmons and Jane Wood.
New Year’s Greetings
It’s been my privilege to cover Tarrant County’s charitable and civic events in 2012, and I can’t wait to hear from you in the year ahead about the things happening with your favorite cause.
As we count down to 2014, may you recall the words of the poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce: “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
Happy New Year