Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday observed by community

by Cole Dittmer
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Staff photo by Cissy Russell

Rainy weather didn’t stop the New Hanover High School band from marching down Castle Street in the Martin Luther King Parade on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011.

Looking for a way to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? There are a multitude of local opportunities for joining community members in honoring the life and works of Dr. King, beginning Thursday, Jan. 12, and continuing through the weekend through Thursday, Jan. 19.

The MLK Jr. Celebration Committee of Southeastern North Carolina will host a majority of the events, planned for locations all around Wilmington culminating in the popular Castle Street parade on King’s birthday, observed on Monday, Jan. 16.

Thursday, Jan. 12

A Night at the Theater will begin at 7 p.m. featuring the talented local theater and dance group Techmoja. The group will perform "The King Speaks," a play about the life and works of Dr. King. The performance will take place in the Hannah Block Historic U.S.O. building on Second and Orange streets. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at the committee’s website,

Friday, Jan. 13

The MLK Jr. Celebration Committee’s annual reception will also be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Hannah Block U.S.O. Reception entertainment includes jazz performed by the Doug Irving Trio, plus silent auctions and a book signing by celebrated local author and editor Bertha Todd and Rhonda Bellamy. There will also be international food and beverage stations. Tickets are $15 at .

Saturday, Jan. 14

The New Hanover County N.A.A.C.P. will host a breakfast at 9 a.m. in the St. Phillip A.M.E. Church on North Eighth Street featuring guest speaker
Rev. Veasay, pastor of First Baptist Church. Tickets are $20 at

Sunday, Jan. 15

First Baptist Church will hold its ecumenical service at 4 p.m., led by Pastor Robert Campbell and hosted by the Ministerial Round Table. There is no admission to this event. Visit the committee website for more information at

Monday, Jan 16

Now in its 10th year the MLK Jr. Celebration Committee is gearing up for another big turnout at this year’s parade. Committee member Hollis Briggs is very excited about the number of participants.

"We will have a wide range of different organizations at the event; there are now 115 individual units that will be in the parade, including about five bands," Briggs said.

In addition to the parade itself there will be food vendors, and representation from local organizations like Occupy Wilmington and Stop Titan. Renowned artist Ivey Hayes will be selling his artwork. The parade will kick off at noon. Visit the committee website for more information at

Thursday, Jan. 19

As a part of the University of North Carolina Wilmington celebration, Dr. Phillip Clay will be this year’s speaker. A native of Wilmington and a 1964 graduate of Williston High School, Dr. Clay is a nationally recognized authority on urban housing policies and was the first African American chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Clay will speak about the origins and significance of the song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," by James Weldon Johnson. Tickets to the event are free and may be picked up at the Kenan Auditorium Box Office beginning Wednesday, Jan. 11. For more information visit UNCW’s Upperman African American Culture Center website at .

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