Victoria Dodd doesn’t want people to forget the meaning behind Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“I would hope that this holiday doesn’t turn out to be a commercial event,” said Dodd, chairperson for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. “Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, even Christmas, we forget why we’re celebrating. It’s a day off now.
“Hopefully, we won’t forget what he was trying to do, bring people together,” Dodd said. “If you peel back the skin, we all look alike.”
Bethlehem Baptist and Dodd will do their share, hosting the ninth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, will be the keynote speaker, while Mansfield High School and recent South Texas School of Law graduate Lyndsey Captain will present the theme, “The Audacity of Hope.”
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Although Bethlehem Baptist hosts the event, the celebration is for the community, Dodd says, and everyone is invited.
“It’s an opportunity to cross boundaries, most people would say race boundaries, and celebrate our common goals,” said the Rev. Shane Whisler, minister at East Broad Outreach Center and Church, who will serve as master of ceremonies.
“Churches are open, but people need a little boost socially to cross the aisle,” Whisler said.
In addition to the speakers, a community choir composed of members from First United Methodist, Trinity Presbyterian, Crossroads Christian and Bethlehem Baptist will perform. A performance by Bethlehem’s Praise Dancers is also planned, while students from The Bethlehem Academy will lead the pledge.
“There is something different each year,” Dodd said. “You never know what portion of a ceremony will touch someone.”
She said she hopes that the celebration inspires people to take action on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“Hopefully on Jan. 20, people will find a service project and make it a day on and not a day off, and do something for someone else,” she said.