His quest for equality and his reverence to God were the qualities for which Martin Luther King Jr. is most known, while his “I Have a Dream” speech remains the theme for those wishing to eliminate prejudice and racism decades after King’s death.
After a hiatus last year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day tradition will continue in 2022 with the march from the Laurel County Courthouse to the London Community Center, followed by a program featuring King’s famous speech and highlighted by music and guest speakers.
This year’s celebration is also hosting a new feature – a Sunday’s Best pageant held in the London Community Center on Sunday afternoon, just prior to Monday’s celebration.
According to Wayne Riley with the Laurel County African American Heritage Council, the idea for a fashion show came up and received favorable responses.
“This is for anyone from birth to age 18,” Riley said. “We wanted to do this because the pageant dresses are too expensive for many families, so we wanted to just have a ‘Sunday Best’ fashion show for the younger people.”
Monday’s activities begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. with a history of Dr. King’s contributions to the children. An essay contest is also held, with the winners in various categories recognized during the evening program. Riley said parents can drop off their children for the activities and rest assured that their child will be safely cared for during that time.
“If a parent drops off their child, the child will not be allowed to leave the community center until the parent comes back to get them,” he said.
Children are also welcome to participate in the march, which simulates King’s “March on Washington” in August 1963. The march, also known as the March for Jobs and Freedom, ended at the Lincoln Memorial and symbolized the concern for equality for the black population. Lincoln is known for abolishing slavery, one of the issues that prompted the American Civil War that lasted from 1861 until 1865.
Guest speakers for the Martin Luther King Jr. program include London native Marty Huff. Huff is co-operator of Christian based WYGE radio station in London. Also featured will be Mae Suramek with Berea College. Suramek is a reformed non-profit administrator turned social entrepreneur. She has worked as a human rights investigator, alumni director for her alma mater – Berea College, and executive director of a regional rape crisis center. After 20 years managing non-profits, Mae opened a noodle shop on the main street of her small town of Berea, with the simple goal of “creating epic noodle bowls and changing the world.” Noodle Nirvana is committed to living wages, supporting local food providers, and significantly impacting the most pressing needs of the community. Now in its fifth year, the restaurant has raised over $120,000 for local causes and has consistently grown in sales. Mae was recently a candidate in a special election for the house seat in KY district 89. Mae also serves on the Governor’s Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board. Mae has a B.A. in Psychology from Berea College and a master’s degree in Counseling from Eastern Kentucky University. She lives in Berea with her husband, Adam, their 14 year old son, Jack, and Mae’s mother, Matty.
The MLK March will begin in front of the Laurel County Courthouse after a brief program at 5:15 p.m. The program will begin in the London Community Center at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend and participate in this historic traditional event.