Celebrating the man, Martin Luther King Jr.

by Howard Lestrud
ECM Online Managing Editor

Had Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived, would our country today be any different? Dr. King was cut down by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, a very turbulent year in the United States. This is a question that can be analyzed by any school classroom.

As we approach Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 17, we should take time to reflect on the impact that this man had on the world. It definitely was because of his civil rights movement that we have achieved more equality of humankind than we ever have had. Many will challenge and say that we still have a long way to go and that likely is true.

I have the fortune, and again am dating myself, to remember Dr. King’s peaceful marches. I also remember watching Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in the living room of my parents’ farm house on Aug. 28, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech was given just three months before our young President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Many cities and schools throughout the nation hold special observances in honor of Dr. King’s memory.

The University of Minnesota is sponsoring a special concert Sunday, Jan. 23, called “Tapestry of Dreams.” It will be held at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, University of Minnesota, from 4-6 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

The 30th anniversary MLK Jr. Concert will feature The Steeles, 4Given, and The Langston Hughes Project: Jazz Moods for Dreamers. The 2011 concert will take place at the Ted Mann Concert Hall.

When the University of Minnesota’s Martin Luther King Day concert began in 1980, it was the only tribute of its kind in Minnesota. The late Reginald Buckner, a professor in the School of Music—and an accomplished performer, composer, and educator—founded the concert and began a tradition of celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. King through performing arts.

Professor Buckner’s death in 1989 left the University with an inspiring legacy—the annual celebration that marks its 30th anniversary in 2011. The Martin Luther King celebration is now a joint program of the University of Minnesota’s Office for Equity and Diversity and the School of Music.

To find out more about MLK celebrations and observances, go to http://www.academic.umn.edu/equity/annualevents/mlk.html

Other MLK events planned in the Twin Cities area include:

MLK Day of Service, Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Jan. 15, 2011
Help honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King at our MLK Day of Service breakfast and volunteer service event on Jan.15, 2011. This event will feature an inspirational message from Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, founder for the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB). For more information: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp783324.jsp

Vespers for Peace and Unity
The Basilica of Saint Mary
Jan. 16, 2011
Celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. by joining in prayer for peace and unity in our hearts, neighborhoods, cities, country and world. For more information: http://www.mary.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=171&Itemid=240.

Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
St. Paul Central High School, Council on Black Minnesotans, Concordia University
Jan. 17, 2011
Includes a rally, march, program and education fair. For more information: http://www.csp.edu/News/events/Martin_Luther_King_Jr._Day_Celebration.html

Martin Luther King Celebrations
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
Jan. 17, 2011
Events at Powderhorn, Whittier and Martin Luther King parks. For more information:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast
Minneapolis Convention Center, hosted by UNCF and General Mills, keynote speaker is Cory Booker.
7 a.m., Jan. 17, 2011
For more information: http://www.mlkbreakfast.com/

Brookdale Library “I Have a Dream” film viewing
11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Jan. 17, 2011
For more information: http://www.hclib.org/kids/events/events_results.cfm?agency=bd

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday: History HiJinx art activity
Noon – 4 p.m., Jan. 17, 2011
The History Center in St. Paul will be open for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. In a History HiJinx art activity, visitors can create luminaries with messages that reflect mutual respect, tolerance and understanding. For more information: http://events.mnhs.org/calendar/Results.cfm?EventID=4626&bhcp=1.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation: “Five Feet Four Inches Forward”
Augsburg College, Hoversten Chapel
1 p.m., January 17, 2011
Performance by the Freedom Fellows, for more information: www.augsburg.edu/convo

30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Concert, “Tapestry of Dreams”
Ted Mann Concert Hall, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
4-6 p.m., Jan. 23, 2011
Free and open to the public

To learn more about Martin Luther King Day and how it was started, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._Day The day is a federal holiday marking the birthday of King, Jan. 15, 1929.

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