Ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. in Durham
IIn Durham, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just one day.
Events are scheduled the weekend prior to the MLK holiday, this year on Jan. 21, as well as throughout the month, honoring the esteemed civil rights leader in various ways. January events range from a law enforcement basketball tournament to a march and rally to guest preachers in local churches.
DeWarren Langley, secretary of the Durham Community Martin Luther King Jr. Steering Committee, said they’ve put together events to “provide a message of unity in the community and remind people of what we’re fighting for – it doesn’t have to be public, just working to make communities better.”
The committee wants to build a spirit of volunteerism, something Langley feels, too. He portrayed King while he was a student at Operation Breakthrough, and has looked up to the leader his entire life. Langley aims to live by that spirit of service and making his community a better place.
Martin Luther King Jr. is familiar in Durham not just as a national figure, but a local one, too. King made several trips to Durham in the 1950s and 60s, speaking at the old Hillside High School and preaching at White Rock Baptist Church as well as dining in the home of a young N.C. Rep. Henry “Mickey” Michaux Jr.
When the National Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2011, the Durham NAACP Branch took a bus there, driving through the night for a chance to be among the thousands of people celebrating the day. Here are several opportunities to observe MLK Day in Durham:
-- 3rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Battle of the Badges Law Enforcement Basketball Tournament will be 6:45 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Emily Krzyzewski Center, 904 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham. The battle raises money for youth scholarships. This year’s battle honors the late Durham Police officer Elbert Mitchell III, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2011. Competing teams are from Durham and Mecklenburg County as well as New York, Atlanta, Prince George’s County, Md., and Connecticut. Tickets are $4/day or $6 for both days. Free for children under 5. For information, contact Officer Jerome Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-757-9247.
-- Youth Rap Forum from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St., Durham. Sponsored by the Durham Community Martin Luther King Jr. Steering Committee. For more information about MLK Steering Committee events, visit www.durhammlkcommittee.org.
-- MLK Celebration, 2-4 p.m. Saturday at W.D. Hill Recreation Center, 1308 Fayetteville St., Durham. Sponsored by Durham Parks and Recreation.
-- Youth Awareness Service with motivational speaker Derwin Dubose, a public affairs strategist, at 4 p.m. Jan. 13 at Hayti Heritage Center. Sponsored by MLK Steering Committee.
-- The Durham City-County Martin Luther King, Jr. 8th Annual Observance Program will be at noon Jan. 16 at First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main St., Durham. Hundreds of city and county employees are expected to attend the program featuring keynote speaker Eric Becoats, superintendent of Durham Public Schools, and the City-County Martin Luther King Jr. Mass Choir. The City-County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Awards will be presented during the program. The event is free and open to the public.
-- Day of Service event to remodel the teachers’ lounge at New Horizons Academy of Excellence, 916 Lamond Ave., Durham, from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 19. Sponsored by MLK Steering Committee.
-- Rev. Prinn Deavens, senior chaplain at the Raleigh Correctional Institution for Women, will preach during the 11 a.m. worship service Jan. 20 at Watts Street Baptist Church, 800 Watts St., Durham for Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday. The service will be followed by a luncheon discussion exploring ways to carry on King's legacy of peace and reconciliation.
-- Rev. Mark A. Lomax, founding pastor of the First Afrikan Church of Lithonia, Ga., and professor of homiletics at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta will teach an adult class at 9:45 a.m. and preach during the 11 a.m. worship service Jan. 20 at First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main St., Durham. Singer Mary D. Williams will perform during the worship service.
-- Rev. William C. Turner, a 1971 Duke University graduate and a member of one of the first classes to include African Americans, will deliver the keynote address for the university's annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 in Duke University Chapel. Open to the public. Turner is pastor of Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham and a professor at Duke.
-- The 33rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast will be at a.m. Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center, 4700 Emperor Boulevard, Durham.
-- MLK Day Unity March and Rally begins at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 21 at the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company, 411 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham, and continues downtown to First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main St., for a service with remarks by elected officials. Sponsored by MLK Steering Committee. For information, call 919-949-7327.
-- Annual religious service, organized by MLK Committee, 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church, 531 S. Roxboro St., Durham. Keynote speaker is Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
-- BlessDurham and PrayDurham will be co-hosting a Prayer Walk on Martin Luther King Jr. Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 21 on the American Tobacco Trail. Prayer stations will be on the trail, which begins at the trail entrance across from Morehead Avenue.
-- Durham MLK/Black History Month Parade will be at noon Feb. 2. The parade route starts at W.D. Pearson Elementary School, 3501 Fayetteville St., and ends at Lawson Street on the N.C. Central University campus.