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January 4, 2011 > A tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

A tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Julie Grabowski

"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood."

"Everything that is done in the world is done by hope."

"Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?"

Such beliefs are just a sliver of the large and powerful legacy of a man fiercely dedicated to civil rights and social change, who hoped to unify people in tolerance, patience, forgiveness, kindness, reconciliation, and love. Martin Luther King, Jr. led boycotts, rallies, marches, and sit-ins; was jailed 29 times, threatened, assaulted, and had his house bombed in his fight to end segregation and gain equal rights for all people. He wrote five books and numerous articles, was awarded five honorary degrees, and was the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35.

Dr. King's work and life was cut short when on April 4, 1968, he was shot and killed on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was scheduled to lead a protest march for striking sanitation workers.

Though campaigning for a federal holiday began soon after the assassination, it wasn't until 1983 that it was signed into law, making the third Monday of every January Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The date was assigned to approximate Dr. King's birthday on January 15th. The holiday was first observed in 1986; this year marks the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday.

While the holiday isn't officially observed until January 17th, the Afro-American Cultural and Historical Society (AACHS) invites the community to celebrate Dr. King's vision and legacy with a special commemoration program Sunday, January 9.

Individuals and groups will gather to honor Dr. King and his vision under this year's theme, "For All the People, The Dreamer and the Dream, Acknowledge the Dream; A Day On, Not a Day Off!" The program will include visuals, spoken word, music, dance, poetry and art work, with performances by the Newark Memorial High Choir, Newark Jr. High Choir, flutist Glenda Squire, and chorus groups from First Presbyterian Church and Genesis United Church.

Newark City Council member Ana Apodaca will preside over the event joined by Newark Mayor David Smith, Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman, and Union City Mayor Mark Green. AACHS President Nancy Eady, Rev. Garrett Yamada, and Nancy Thomas of the Newark Unified School District School Board will also participate. Pastor Bryan Murphy of South Bay Community Church will be the keynote speaker.

About 200 people are expected, and program coordinator Jean Ficklin welcomes the community to celebrate and promote equal access and opportunity for all people in all aspects of a normal life including work and educational opportunities, civic mindedness, responsibility, volunteer work, and love for our fellow man. "We are expecting to have an invigorating experience," she says.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration
Sunday, January 9
3 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Newark
35450 Newark Blvd. (at Cedar Blvd.), Newark
(510) 793-8181

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