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37th Annual Tree of Life Commemoration honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be held on April 5

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —

OKLAHOMA CITY – The public is invited to attend the Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition Tree of Life Commemoration honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The event, to be held in Oklahoma City on Monday, April 5 at 6 p.m., is meant to keep Dr. King’s dream alive.

This year’s event keynote speaker will be State Representative Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City.

Thirty-seven years ago, the OKC MLK Coalition got together and decided to commemorate the life of Reverend Dr. King Jr. by planting a tree at the State Capitol. 

The state of Oklahoma approved the request to plant the tree and the commemorations began. The tree was continuously vandalized and had to be replaced 3 to 4 times over the years.

The tree planting was 5 years after the state officially had made Dr. King’s birthday a holiday. The tree is located on the southeast side of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

“Today the tree is full of life and stands tall on the State Capitol grounds,” said R.L. Doyle, OKC MLK Committee Chair.

Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

“We meet every year at the same place and time to reflect on the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his death,” said Doyle.

“We continue to remember, where we have been and where we are going,” Doyle added. “We ask the community to join us, like our theme for this year’s MLK Holiday Program/Parade states, “Remember, Celebrate, Act” on Monday, April 5 at 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Capitol.”

The winners of the OKC MLK Essay and Poster contest will be announced during the Commemoration ceremony. The essay should be about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in association with the 2021 OKC MLK Coalition’s theme “Remember, Celebrate, Act”. 

“We are encouraging students to write an essay or design a poster to compete in the contest,” Doyle said. “There will be $100 awarded to the 1st Place Essay & Poster contest winners and $50 will be awarded to the 2nd Place Essay & Poster contest winners from each category: elementary, middle, and high schools.”

The awards will be given to the essay and poster that meets all the guidelines and receives the most points established by the contest review committee.

“Please be reminded this is an outside ceremony, however we will practice safe distancing and strongly encourage mask to be worn,” Doyle said. “April 4 is the date of Dr. King’s death, but with Easter on this date, we chose to commemorate a day later.”

If you have questions regarding the MLK Essay/Poster contest, contact La’Vet Richmond at [email protected] or call 405-249-7018.

For more information about the OKC MLK Coalition Tree of Life Celebration, contact William Jones at [email protected] or call 405-306-8440.  For updates visit the Tree of Life Facebook event page.

“Dr. King was just 39 when shot and killed in 1968, already a public voice against the Vietnam War, and planning a Poor People’s March on Washington to make visible the disparity of wealth between America’s rich and poor,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, Director of the Oklahoma City Peace House and longtime attendee of the Tree of Life event. “His leadership for nonviolent opposition to systemic racism was just the first chapter in a life dedicated to universal social justice and world peace.”

To learn more, visit okcmlkcoalition.org.

The public is invited to attend the Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition Tree of Life Celebration honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, April 5 at 6 p.m. southeast of the State Capitol. OKC MLK Coalition Facebook photo
The Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition Tree of Life is located on the southeast side of the Oklahoma State Capitol. OKC MLK Facebook photo