Annual MLK Service to Feature Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

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    For the first time since its inception, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service will feature a Hispanic speaker, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Elder Bernice King called Rodriguez “an electrifying orator. . .He is one of the most dynamic and inspiring proponents of the social gospel in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.”

    Rodriguez will speak at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, preceeding the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington.

    The Monday service caps the weekend which features the annual “Salute to Greatness dinner on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. The dinner will honor Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate known as the “Father of Microcredit,” and founder of the Gameen Bank in Bangladesh. In addition, Aflac Inc. and its chairman and chief executive officer, Daniel P. Amos, will be honored.

    “The King Center welcomes the opportunity to honor one of our world’s great humanitarians, Professor Yunus, the pioneering leader of the
    ‘microcredit’movement, which has empowered millions of women to lift their families out of poverty,” said Dr. Bernice King, daughter of
    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We are also honoring Aflac Inc., for their innovative corporate citizenship and stellar example of
    social responsibility in communities across the nation.”

    One of The King Center’s highest honors, the Salute to Greatness Award, is being presented to these two individuals at the
    annual fundraising dinner to recognize their excellence in leadership and a commitment to social responsibility in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.

    In addition, The King Center will unveil and present the Inaugural Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L. Award (Advancing Non-violence through Generations of Exceptional Leadership), which recognizes young leaders (ages 12-25) and a youth organization/initiative that exemplifies exceptional leadership in the areas of peace, social justice and nonviolent social change.

    The recipients of the 1st annual A.N.G.E.L. Award are Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs. Global Warming (A.N.G.E.L. Award Youth), and “The 100 Days of Nonviolence” the Birmingham Campaign (A.N.G.E.L. Award Youth Initiative), accepted by City Councilman James (Jay) E. Roberson Jr. Birmingham, Ala., District 7.

    The inaugural A.N.G.E.L. awardees exemplify the spirit of youth activism for environmental progress and the pursuit of social progress through Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’ s philosophy and methods of nonviolent conflict reconciliation.

    “I am my father’s daughter; I realize that the responsibility for his legacy is ours,” said Bernice King. ” I am also my mother’s child; and like her, I am determined to keep his spirit alive. This is why I am so honored to serve as the CEO of the King Center. The challenges are great, but with help from our friends, supporters, and those who are committed to living the dream, we will not fail.”

    The Annual Salute to Greatness Dinner has become one of the largest dinners held in Atlanta during the calendar year, with many nationally known public figures and some of Atlanta’s top community leaders participating. Some of the recipients of the Salute to Greatness Award in recent years have included: (then) Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; Ben & Jerry’s; Oprah Winfrey; The Portman Companies; Bono; Turner Broadcasting System Inc.; Quincy Jones; Sara Lee Corporation; Tony Bennett; AOL Time Warner; Stevie Wonder; the Coca-Cola Company; Coretta Scott King (posthumously); Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn; and Sheila C. Johnson, founder and C.E.O. of Salamander Hotels and Resorts.

    There will be a reception prior to the dinner in the foyer outside the ballroom beginning at 5:30 p.m. and an “Afterglow” reception in the Regency Ballroom following the dinner. Sponsors of the Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner include: the Coca-Cola Company; Mercedes-Benz USA; Newell Rubbermaid; Delta Airlines; Allstate; Cox Media Group; Kaiser Permanente; Wells Fargo; The Home Depot; the Captain Planet Foundation; and others to be announced.

    Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president Global Connections of theCoca-Cola Company, is serving as the 2013 MLK Dinner Chair and the new co-chairs are Laura Turner Seydel, chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation and Tad Hutcheson, vice president, community and public affairs of Delta Airlines.

    The dinner is one of the highlights of the King Center’s 10-day Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance program (Jan. 11-21), culminating on the national holiday honoring Dr. King. The other events of the MLK observance program will be announced in the weeks ahead.

    For more information about sponsorships and tickets, call Barbara Harrison at 404- 526-8961 (email: bharrison@thekingcenter.org) or Events Manager Sonjia Young at 404- 526-8989.

    Tickets may also be purchased on line via the King Center’s web page http://www.thekingcenter.org/salute-greatness-award-2013.

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