Annual King celebration seeks to build on past civil rights gains

A Pulitzer Prize award-winning columnist, the pastor of an historic church in Harlem, and a Florida congressman are among speakers who will be featured during this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

This year marks the 32nd national observance of the King federal holiday. Monday marks the 89th birthday of the slain civil rights leader.

The local festivities were scheduled to kick off Jan. 6 with an artist tribute featuring local gospel artist Isaac Cates & Ordained. The observances conclude Wednesday with the annual Black Achievers Reception and Awards Dinner that will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City has sponsored the majority of the Kansas City Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs. A plethora of other King-related events will be held in Kansas City, Kan., Overland Park, Independence, Raytown, Lee’s Summit and Liberty.

The various scheduled events range from a youth leadership workshop, scholarship dinners, volunteers efforts, a prayer breakfast, community forums, interfaith worship services and an assortment of other activities.

“His message is one of unity (beloved community) and the more communities that recognize the need to eliminate division the better our country will be for everyone,” said Arlana Coleman, who has helped plan the SCLC…

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