King Holiday Marks 25th Anniversary


King_Holiday_Marks_25th_Anniversary.jpgBy Special to the Daily World
King Center President and C.E.O. Martin Luther King III recently announced that the Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner on January 15th  will honor, posthumously, the late Senator Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy, with his wife Mrs. Victoria Kennedy accepting the award and paying tribute to her husband’s legacy and support of Dr. King.

“It’s fitting that we honor Senator Kennedy as we mark this special 25th anniversary commemoration,” said King, “because no U.S. Senator worked harder to secure the kind of social, economic and humanitarian reforms needed to fulfill my father’s dream. In addition, Senator Kennedy was the primary Senate sponsor of the King holiday legislation, and his leadership was critical for its enactment.”

King also announced that The King Center’s corporate honoree for 2011 is  Ben and Jerry’s, with co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield accepting the award.

“Under the leadership of Cohen and Greenfield,” said King, “Ben and Jerry’s has provided an outstanding example of creative entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility, setting the highest standards of environmental concern, progressive workplace policies and public-spirited community involvement.”

On January 13th, there will be three events: the State of Georgia Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission Program at 10:00 a.m. in the north wing of the state capitol, featuring Governor Nathan Deal and a host of elected officials; “The 4th Annual Peace Program Celebrating the Peace Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.” co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and the King Center from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at The King Center; and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s “A King Celebration” Concert at 8:00 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel on the Campus of Morehouse College (general admission $25).

On Friday, January 14th at 10:00 a.m., The King Center will host a “Naturalization Ceremony with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,” swearing-in and welcoming 81 new citizens of the United States. From 11:00 until 3:00 p.m., The King Center will host “The National 9/11 Flag Stitching Ceremony,” in which outstanding community servants will take part in re-stitching the largest American flag to survive the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

On Saturday, January 15th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Dr. King’s actual birthday anniversary, Ms. Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs. King, will host the “Happy Birthday Dr. King” celebration for children ages 2-10 years old at The King Center’s Freedom Hall. From 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. on the same day, The King Center, in partnership with the Andrew Young Foundation, will host the First Annual Civil Rights Film Festival, featuring documentaries from the ‘Andrew Young Presents’ collection. The program will feature remarks by Ambassador Andrew Young.

One of the highlights of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the King holiday, The King Center’s Annual Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner on Saturday, January 15th at 6:30 p.m. at Atlanta’s Hyatt-Regency Hotel honoring Kennedy and Ben and Jerry’s.

Other confirmed participants: Martin Luther King III; Rev. Bernice A. King; Christine King Farris; Columnist/commentator Roland S. Martin; and Gospel quartet The Turning Pointe. The Dinner is The King Center’s primary fund-raising event (tickets $200; tables $2,500 and $5000).

All events except for the Atlanta Symphony performance and Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner are free of charge.

On Sunday, January 16th, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., there will be book signings in The King Center’s Freedom Hall Auditorium with members of the King family, including King Center President/CEO Martin Luther King III; Dr. Christine King Farris; and Dr. Angela Farris Watkins autographing books on January 17th  .

On the King Holiday, The King Center will present The Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service, the nation’s ‘flagship’ memorial service honoring Dr. King at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Horizon Sanctuary. Martin Luther King III will deliver the keynote address, with additional tributes to Dr. King from leading public figures. Other confirmed participants: U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed;  U.S. Rep. John Lewis; singers Rev. Wintley Phipps and LeAndria Johnson. Following the service, King will join the front ranks of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday march in Atlanta.

That evening, from 6-9:00 p.m., The King Center will host a “Youth Poetry Slam” in the Freedom Hall Auditorium, where  some of Atlanta’s young poets will lend their voices to the continuing relevance of the King legacy to a new generation.

Also on Jan. 17, in partnership with The King Center, The Center for Sustainable Communities in collaboration with the Southern Company/GA Power, Atlanta Urban league and other environmental and civic organizations will present “Sustaining Families and Communities Through Environmental Stewardship.”

Participants in this program will plant 100 fruit trees and 200 vegetable seedlings in the lot on the corner diagonally opposite from The King Center and collect recyclable materials in honor of Dr. King, as part of the nation-wide day of community service on the King holiday. Hands on Atlanta will also coordinate a broad range of city-wide community service projects in honor of Dr. King, and President Obama is expected to participate in a King Holiday community service project in Washington, D.C.

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