Tarrant County residents will commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with reflection and service — actions that heed the message of community the civil-rights leader encouraged.
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,” King said during a sermon in 1968. “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. ... You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
Monday is MLK Day, and for many people, the holiday is not simply a day off but a day to reflect on King’s teachings, delve into history and serve others. Across the country, people will participate in parades, marches and rallies to remind communities of civil-rights struggles of the past.
“His legacy is one of diversity, unity and tolerance and equality for all citizens,” said Roderick Miles, a coordinator for the Greater Fort Worth Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Committee.
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The day also serves to remind communities that they must work together, Miles said.
“It is important for us to operate from a place of love,” Miles said.
On Nov. 3, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that established the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, beginning in 1986. The first national King holiday was observed Jan. 20, 1986, according to the King Center in Atlanta.
The holiday has evolved into the MLK Day of Service in part because of the United We Serve initiative promoted by President Barack Obama. United We Serve is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that fosters volunteering.
“A lot of people will be serving others,” Miles said. “We have to look at some of the challenges we face as opportunities to come together.”
In Tarrant County, volunteers have served by weeding community gardens, stocking food pantries, painting apartments for victims of domestic violence and writing letters to soldiers overseas. This year, Tarrant Churches Together, an interchurch nonprofit organization in Fort Worth, is organizing the seventh annual MLK Day of Service. People and groups can register to serve at various work sites including the Tarrant Area Food Bank, Beautiful Feet Ministries and One Safe Place.
“Each year, volunteers young and old from a diverse range of churches, neighborhoods and races all come together to give back in meaningful ways through this event,” said Melinda Veatch, executive director of Tarrant Churches Together.
Tyron Lane, vice chairman of the Greater Fort Worth Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Committee, said that when people of diverse backgrounds volunteer or serve together, it builds understanding. He said service cuts across social lines of race, social status and ideologies.
“We are coming together and we are celebrating what Dr. King tried to do for all people,” Lane said.
Tarrant County MLK Day events
6:45 p.m., MLK Advancing the Dream Awards Banquet at the Bluebonnet Ballroom, UT Arlington, E.H. Hereford University Center, 300 W. First St.
Keynote speaker: Cornell Williams Brooks, national president and CEO of the NAACP
Tickets $45. Purchase at www.utatickets.com.
7 p.m., MLK Scholarship Awards Banquet, Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus, 300 Trinity Campus Circle, Action Suite, fourth floor.
Banquet celebrating high school seniors awarded scholarships.
Cost is $50 per person or $400 per table of eight. Call 817-355-4831 for more information.
▪ 11 a.m., MLK Step Competition, Bowie High School Auditorium, 2101 Highbank Drive.
The event features step teams in elementary, junior high and high school competition.
Admission is $10 at the door with $5 admission for all elementary students and children under age 5.
▪ 3:30 p.m., MLK Multicultural Festival, TCC Southeast Campus, 2100 Southeast Parkway.
Free celebration of MLK with food, art and music.
▪ 7 p.m., An Evening of Spoken Word, UT Arlington, Bluebonnet Ballroom, E.H. Hereford University Center, 300 W. First St.
Slam poetry event to honor Martin Luther King Jr. There is a $1,000 cash prize for the winning poet.
5 p.m., Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth’s 31st Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Mass celebrated at Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, 1007 E. Terrell Ave.
Fort Worth Bishop Michael F. Olson will celebrate the Mass. Victoria Bishop Brendan J. Cahill will deliver the homily.
A reception will follow Mass at the Bethlehem Center, 970 E. Humbolt St.
6 p.m. MLK/Hubert Moss Ecumenical Service at Koinonia Christain Church, 2455 SE Green Oaks Blvd.
Keynote speaker is the Rev. Jason Paredes of Fielder Road Church. A reception follows.
5 p.m., MLK celebration at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1188 W. Broad St.
Free admission. Gage Yeager of Trinity Habitat for Humanity is the keynote speaker.
MLK Day of Service
- 9 a.m. Volunteers meet at Mission Arlington, 400 W. South St., for assignments and tools. Just show up to help.
- 10 a.m. MLK Service Fest at Levitt Pavilion, downtown Arlington, 100 W. Abram St. Event includes live performances, art and food trucks.
- 6:30 p.m. MLK Youth Musical Extravaganza, Metro Center, Fielder Church, 1323 W. Pioneer Parkway. More than 400 youth singers perform, first-place step team competition winners, MLK scholarship recipients. Free admission.
10 a.m., Tarrant Churches Together seventh annual MLK Day of Service.
Preregistration sign-in/walk-in registration opens at 8 a.m. at Baker Chapel AME Church, 1050 E. Humbolt St.. Volunteers participate in a community worship service and then serve at various work sites from 10 a.m. until 12:45.
For information, call 817-737-5554 or visit www.tarranttogether.org.
11 a.m. Parade/rally downtown.
Parade starts at Ninth and Commerce streets downtown, goes north on Houston Street around the Tarrant County Courthouse to Main Street. The parade ends at Sundance Square Plaza, where a rally will be held.
7 p.m., MLK Celebration Speech on the Steps, Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway.
Viewing of the 17-minute I Have A Dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr. and prayer for the unity of the world.