January 20, 2014, marked the celebration of a man who made history. This legendary man was Martin Luther King Jr. His non-violent protests and movements for equality between African Americans and whites earned him a Nobel Peace Prize and a life time of commemoration. His famous literary pieces, “I Have A Dream,” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” have also become inspiring and influential works studied by many.
Events honoring Dr. King took place before the official federal holiday in observance of this passionate activist. Most events were hosted by the King Center. On January 10, the King Center hosted the kick off reception in honor of Dr. King’s life and work in the Freedom Hall at the center. Elected officials, university presidents, executives, and pastors were some of the many to congregate at this reception. The national launch of the King Center Campaign “Choose Nonviolence” also took place.
One of the events was held on January 11. Visual art submissions from youth ages 5 to 25 were showcased in the Freedom Hall screening room. Art submissions reflected peace and choosing nonviolence. Besides celebrating Dr. King’s legacy, this event also celebrates Yolanda D. King, and “her love of cultural affairs and the arts and her commitment to nonviolence” (thekingcenter). Yolanda was Dr. King’s and Coretta King’s first child.
The following day, on January 12, people gathered for a book signing and intimate conversation with the surviving King family. According to the King Center website, Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center and Dr. King’s youngest daughter, autographed “Desert Rose: The life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King,” which was written by Edythe Scott Bagley, Mrs. King’s sister. Martin Luther King, III, the oldest son of Dr. King, autographed his children’s book, “My Daddy: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” Dr. Christine King Farris, the oldest remaining sibling of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Dr. Angela Farris Watkins, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also autographed their published books.
On January 13 to January 15, the King and Farris family taught students and the general public how to incorporate nonviolence principles into their daily lives. Also on January 15, a discussion was held about human trafficking issues from “local, national, and international perspectives.” Possible plans of action to resolve this issue were also discussed.
On January 17, college students came together and discussed how to implement nonviolent practices on campus and off campus. They also brainstormed ways to resolve social problems using nonviolent means.
On January 18, the King Center hosted the Salute to Greatness Award Dinner. This is considered one of the King’s Center’s highest honors and is given to individuals and organizations for “outstanding efforts toward building Dr. King’s beloved community.” They are also recognized for their leadership qualities and practice of Dr. King’s philosophy and principles. Coretta Scott King established and awarded the first Salute to Greatness Award in 1983. The Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. award was also given at the dinner. This is awarded to a youth or young adult, ages 12 to 25 years old, for showing ” exceptional leadership in peace, social justice and nonviolent social change.” This year’s honorees were Muhammad Ali, Xerox Corporation, One Billion Rising Campaign, and Khalida Brohi.
During the official federal holiday on January 20, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Reverend Raphael Warnock was the keynote speaker. Also on this day, bells were rung across the nation to show “commitment to choosing nonviolence and peace in 2014.”
Dr. King’s work shall not be forgotten and his legacy continues to inspires people. It is important to honor heroes of our past like Martin Luther King Jr, and to support this effort, have events to salute his life changing movement.