In observance of a day that celebrates the life and achievements of an American leader and humanitarian, Tifton and many other communities around the country will host various events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The 2014 Martin Luther King Day Celebration will kick off with the city of Tifton and Tift County governmental official opening of MLK holiday from 11 a.m. to noon Friday at First Presbyterian Church of Tifton on North Park Avenue. Admission is free. The local governmental bodies, elected officials, judges, community leaders, laypersons, city and county employees and organizational leaders will recognize and honor the life and legacy of King and invoke his message of justice and equality.
An awards dinner will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Leroy Rogers Senior Center. This event will feature the local Tift County High School jazz band, Christian bands, soloists, etc. Being honored are individuals in the local, state and national community who embody and practice the work of unity, peace and integrity and love —the work of King. Tickets are $25. Contact Ambrose King Jr. at 326-4396 to purchase a ticket or for more information.
“A King Concert: A Musical Celebration to the Life and Legacy” will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday at First Assembly of God, located at 1800 N. Central Ave. Professional voices will sing repertoire of peace, unity and love — morals and ideals lived and preached by King. Also, spoken words from King will be read by local ministers. This is a free event.
A commemorative service will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Monday at Greater Springfield Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. This free event is the spiritual hallmark of the King holiday and is an ecumenical endeavor, engaging members of various religious traditions, local, state and national governments. On this day, this service encourages the world to engage in interfaith dialogue and to become moral cosmopolitans in tribute to the work and life of King. The honorees are Hugh Thompson, chief justice of Georgia Supreme Court; Paul Howard, Fulton County district attorney; and Dr. Eric Holland, an assistant principal and boys basketball coach at Tift County High School.
In addition, PLIGHT’s annual MLK Breakfast will be held at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the Leroy Rogers Senior Center. Tickets are $10 with kids age five and under admitted free. Tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. This year’s speaker is Serena Garcia, director of commu-nications for AARP-GA. She has 20 years of experience leading mass communications strategies for news publications, governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. For tickets or more information, contact Fran Kinchen at 391-9299 or Clara Gray at 386-1552. To continue their service project, which is to help restock the local soup kitchen and food bank, PLIGHT members are asking all attendees to bring a non-perishable item to the breakfast.
Also, the annual MLK Day Parade and Festival by the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Monday. Speakers will include Mayor Jamie Cater and Lillie Bryant with Wells Fargo out of Fitzgerald, who will speak on investing in our children. The march will form at the corner of 17th Street and South Central Avenue.
The NAACP will also be giving away $100 to most creative MLK theme car, float and exhibit. They encourage all youth groups, churches and businesses to participate. For any questions, contact Sharon Mathis at 392-6335.
Former President Ronald Reagan signed the MLK holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. However, it was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000. As a result of the bill, Americans commemorate King’s birthday on the third Monday in January.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.