LAURINBURG – Several activities have been planned to mark the 35th observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this Monday.
The biggest event is the Annual MLK Day March through Laurinburg. The walk begins at the parking lot of the former Pope’s department store where participants will line up at 9:45 a.m. and begin the eight tenths of a mile memorial walk at 10 a.m. The course will go through downtown and end at Bright Hopewell Baptist Church.
Pastor BJ Gibson of Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church in Wagram will deliver the message at the Kind day celebration.
“I’m excited about the event; it’s a national celebration, but it’s more important for the local community because Dr. King was a grassroots leader,” Gibson said. “It’s important for us to keep the local community reminded of his sacrifice and the true message of his dream.”
Gibson said he will try to center his message that day on King’s dream.
“It will be rooted in finding a way to analyze what Dr. King’s dream means to today’s society and generations to come,” he said.
Gibson believes King Day observations are more important now than ever given the current political climate and the fact that hate groups feel emboldened by the sitting president. He believes that it is important to continue to spread the message of love and equality.
“Those of us who really have the heart for equality and purity have to remain that way regardless of what those who have different opinions state. We can’t allow these people to infringe on our beliefs. We should be continuing to improve race relations, not just this weekend. We should be just as loud as they are and declare that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Gibson said ending his thoughts with a quote from King.
The march ends a weekend of observances by the Scotland County Ministerial Alliance and the NAACP.
On Saturday, at 9 a.m. the alliance will host an MLK Prayer Breakfast at Galilee United Methodist Church on McGirts Bridge Road. Mary Hemphill, principal of Carver Elementary School will speak.
On Sunday evening a Unity Service will be held at Jerusalem United Methodist Church on Jerusalem Road. Rev. Joann Davis will deliver the sermon.
On Monday evening St. Andrews University will hold its annual King Day service. The program begins at 6 p.m. at Avinger Auditorium. Actors Sonny Kelly and Mitch Capel will offer a presentation with a theme of Community. Kelly will emcee the event. NC Rep. Garland E. Pierce will be the keynote speaker.
The observance of King’s birthday began officially in 1983 after President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law declaring it an official holiday. However, the day had been observed by advocates for some 15 years prior to federal recognition.
Shortly after King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, Congressman John Conyers Jr. of Michigan submitted early legislation in the hope of making Jan. 15, King’s birthday, a federal holiday. The eventual federal law declared the third Monday in January as a holiday to remember King’s work.
During the same time as Conyers’ bid, the King Memorial Center in Atlanta was formed. The center held the first annual observance of his birthday in January of 1969.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169