Message for King celebrations is one of service

Friday, December 14, 2007

People attending the King events are encouraged to bring items that can be donated to charity.

The lead organizer of Cape Girardeau's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Citywide Celebration events wants people to know that this year's events are about humanitarian action, not just listening to speakers.

"We're making all programs center around the service act, where we're not just coming to hear the message ... We're actually asking people to do something of a service nature," said Debra Mitchell-Braxton, organizer of five King celebration events that kick off Jan. 17. These events are organized independently of Southeast Missouri State University's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner taking place Jan. 23.

Braxton said people attending the King events are encouraged to bring items that can be donated to charity like toiletries, canned food items and children's shoes, and also to make monetary donations that will be given to local charities.

The events begin with the sixth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Extravaganza at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Osage Community Centre. Braxton said the event is scheduled to be as close to King's actual birthday on Jan. 15 as possible.

Area students will perform instrumental, vocal and theatrical tributes to King.

The next event takes place at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at St. James AME Church at 516 North St. The 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration will include the presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award, given to an individual or organization that "exemplified justice and equality and service to others," Braxton said. Nomination forms will soon be available.

Other events follow on the King holiday Jan. 21. The 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast will start at 8 a.m. at the Osage Community Centre, with doors opening at 7 a.m.

From 10 to 11:30 a.m. breakfast visitors are encouraged to stay at the Osage for A Walk Down Memory Lane, an educational program about the civil rights movement and race in America today.

The seventh annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Luncheon will follow at noon at the Osage Community Centre, with the presentation of the Dr. C. John Ritter Humanitarian Service Award, awarded to an individual for acts of humanitarianism.

The events will culminate at 4 p.m. at West Park Mall with a Youth Gala, where area students will perform musical tributes to King.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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