Upcoming MLK Day events feature NAACP, HBCU leaders
Plans to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Durham are taking shape, with events that feature the national NAACP president, reflections on integrating Durham schools as children, local clergy preaching and a parade.
The NAACP’s outgoing president, Benjamin Jealous, is the keynote speaker for Duke University’s MLK commemoration. He will speak at 3 p.m. Jan. 19 at Duke Chapel. Duke’s observance theme is “50 Years: Backwards or Forward?” relating to the 2013 50th anniversary of Duke’s first African-American undergraduate students as well as the 1963 March on Washington, and the upcoming anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For Jealous’ speech, there will be free parking in Duke’s Bryan Center parking garage near the chapel.
“The theme really came out of the discussion about the nation being at one of those critical points where there are significant challenges to the progress we’ve made over the decades and even some moves backwards,” said
Benjamin Reese, co-chairman of the MLK Planning Committee and vice president for Duke's Office for Institutional Equity, said in the university announcement that the theme came out of discussion “about the nation being at one of those critical points where there are significant challenges to the progress we’ve made over the decades and even some moves backwards.”
Jealous served as NAACP president since 2008. Last year, the keynote speaker was the Rev. William Turner, a Duke Divinity School professor and alum who is also co-chairman of the commemoration committee.
Duke students also will join Durham Technical Community College students on Jan. 20 at Durham Tech for a MLK Million Meals Project to benefit Stop Hunger Now. Details about Duke MLK events are listed online at mlk.duke.edu.
At N.C. Central University, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day convocation will be held at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 16 in B.N. Duke Auditorium on campus, 1851 Fayetteville St. Marc Lamont Hill is the guest speaker. For information, contact Michael Page at 919-530-5263
Charmaine McKissick-Melton, NCCU associate professor and chairwoman of the communications department, will be the guest at the fourth annual “Children’s Birthday Party for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Northgate Mall, sponsored by NC MomsRising and other local groups. At the free event, McKissick-Melton will share her experience as a child integrating Durham Public Schools. Children will also participate in a service project and crafts. There will be songs and birthday cake, too, at the event in the mall’s center court, 1058 W. Club Blvd. Participants are asked to bring either non-perishable food to donate to the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Backpack Buddies program or a pack of new children’s underwear to support Urban Ministries of Durham. For information, contact Jessica Burroughs at 919-260-5375 or Beth Messersmith at 919-323-6179 or Beth@momsrising.org.
Several Durham churches observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the Sunday before, and Watts Street Baptist Church has announced its guest preacher. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove will preach the MLK Day sermon at Watts Street Baptist during the 11 a.m. worship service Jan. 19 at the church, 800 Watts St. in Durham. Wilson-Hartgrove is a minister at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church and a founder of Rutba House in the Walltown neighborhood. He will talk about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
The service will be followed by a lunch and discussion about issues of race and poverty in Durham. Lunch reservations can be made by calling the church office at 919-688-1366.
MLK Day events will end as Black History Month begins with a parade celebrating both. The 12th Annual Durham MLK-Black History Month Parade will be held at noon Feb. 1 along Fayetteville St.
The theme is “Celebrating Black Women in American Culture,” and the grand marshals will be NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, St. Augustine’s University President Dianne Suber and Bennett College President Rosalind Fuse-Hall. The parade will include marching bands, floats, school and church groups, step and dance teams, horses, cars, motorcycles, unique vehicles, clowns and more. The route begins at W.G. Pearson Elementary School at 3501 Fayetteville St., and ends at Lawson and Fayetteville streets at NCCU’s campus. The Durham MLK-Black History Month Parade is a program of the Triangle Cultural Awareness Foundation, a project of United Charitable Programs, Inc. and planned by Another Coley Event. For information, visit www.spectacularmag.com or call 919-690-0465.