Rev. Dr. William Barber keynotes Dr. Martin Luther King's 87th birthday

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ATLANTA — North Carolina Civil Rights Icon the Rev. Dr. William Barber, II to deliver Keynote Message at The King Center’s Annual Commemorative Service honoring the 87th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Special Greetings will be given by The Honorable Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Ambassador United States Charge d’Affaires to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba andThe Honorable Julian Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

The Service, commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday in his honor, will be held at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, Horizon Sanctuary on Monday, January 18, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.

“My father said everybody can be great because anybody can serve,” said Dr. Bernice A. King. “Dr. Barber has a proven record of service that exemplifies the true meaning of greatness.”

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, II is the President of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, member of the National NAACP Board of Directors and chair of the National NAACP Legislative Political Action Committee.  Under his leadership, the NAACP developed a new 21st Century voter registration/voter participation system.

Nationwide this system registered more than 442,000 new voters and provided access to 1.5 million voters. Rev. Barber serves as convener of the HKonJ People’s Assembly and the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement. The first Moral Monday protest was held at the North Carolina State Capitol on April 29, 2013 to protest legislative action and inaction that the coalition believed would negatively impact the state’s poor and minority citizens and to advocate for a broad range of issues including Medicaid expansion, education funding, criminal justice reform, and protecting voting rights.

Since this initial protest in North Carolina, Moral Monday protests have been replicated in twelve other states. Rev. Dr. Barber is the author of numerous articles and has published two books: Preaching Through Unexpected Pain and Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation.   He has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Crisis Magazine, and has spoken, preached and lectured around the country.

Rev. Barber also serves as pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina where he has led the church to invest more than $1.5 million into building more than 60 homes for low-income families, a 41-unit senior citizens’ residence, a 90-student pre-school, an academic after-school, a computer lab for youth and adults, an HIV information and testing center, and a Second Chance program for training formerly incarcerated men and women in the culinary arts, landscaping and technical jobs.

The Honorable Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Ambassador United States Charge d’Affaires to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba and The Honorable Julian Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development will bring Special Greetings.

“Since 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of my father going to Chicago to bring attention to the need for open and fair housing, it is quite fitting for Secretary Castro to participate in our service by bringing greetings” says Dr. Bernice A. King.

Other participants include a host of federal, state, and local elected officials, social change advocates, community leaders, public figures from the arts, education and the faith community. Fox 5 of Atlanta televises the program locally every year.  The King Center’s Founder, Coretta Scott King organized the first religious service commemorating Dr. King’s birthday in 1969 with the intention that it would become an annual tradition and the spiritual centerpiece of future observances of Dr. King’s birthday.

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