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Celebration set for Martin Luther King Day with day of events

By Robin Y. Richardson
Jan. 3, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The 27th annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration is set with various events slated for all to enjoy.

"All of our events are held on that third Monday because that is the day that's declared the national holiday," explained Mrs. Charles Wilson, long-time president of the Harrison County branch of NACCP, which sponsors the celebration.

She will be turning 79 years old the day of the occasion, which makes the celebration even more special to her.

"This is the first time it has ever been on my birthday," she said of the national holiday, explaining it usually falls either a day before her birthday or a day after.

"I just feel blessed that God has given me the strength and the love for our community and mankind to still try to move forward a people toward the love community that Dr. King spoke of," said Mrs. Wilson.

She invited the public to the day-long activities, which kicks off with a parade at noon then a youth talent show and culminates with a formal, dinner banquet.

The theme this year is "Dr. King's Dream: Our Vision (Love, Justice, Peace)."

"Our vision coincides with his dream," she said.

Mrs. Wilson said in today's time having love, justice and peace are priorities.

"You cannot have love if you don't have justice and if you don't have justice, you don't have peace," she said.

She said the three were pertinent during Dr. King's era, but are needed even more so in this generation.

"In Dr. King's day it was his leadership that many followed," said Mrs. Wilson. "It appears now in 2012, we don't have any leadership."

She said love, justice and peace need to start at the grassroots level.

"It must be a day-to-day (implementation)," she said.

The parade route will begin at Wiley College to Bomar Street, a right on Bomar to Meredith Street, a left on Meredith to South Washington Street, a right on South Washington to Pinecrest Drive, a left on Pinecrest Drive to Garrett Street, a right on Garrett Street to Bell Street, and a left on Bell Street to Marshall Convention Center.

The entry fee is $5 per vehicle.

"We encourage as much participation as possible," said Mrs. Wilson. "The only necessary thing is to identify who you are on each side of the vehicle or the back and front."

She said they encourage more vehicles than walking units to participate in order to avoid delaying the parade traffic in the cold weather.

The youth talent show, showcasing local and area youth, will begin at Marshall Convention Center immediately following the parade. Admission is free.

During the program, three awards will be given to parade participant winners for beauty, creativity and theme. Essay writing contest winners will also be recognized.

"One of the most popular and positive events is the essay writing contest for all students in grades first through twelfth," said Mrs. Wilson.

The essay writing divisions are: elementary (grades 1-4), middle (grades 5 and 6), junior high (grades 7 and 8) and high school (grades 9 through 12).

"Prizes will be given in these four categories," said Ms. Wilson.

The final event of the day, the dinner banquet, will begin that evening. Doors will open at 6 p.m. in Caddo Hall at the convention center and dinner will be served, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and $400 to sponsor a table.

Door prizes donated from local retailers will be given away.

For more information about the celebration, call (903) 935-2255, (903) 263-1794 or (903) 938-9803.



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