By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Story updated Thursday, Jan. 4, 2019
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma City’s 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration, themed, “We Are CommUNITY” will take place on Monday, January 21, the national holiday bearing King’s name. The public is invited to attend.
Organized by the Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Holiday Coalition, the daylong event is one of the largest and most diverse celebrations in the country. A crowd of approximately 30,000 people is expected to attend.
The coalition is sponsored by the Oklahoma County National Association of Black Social Workers.
Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. He was a pastor, activist, humanitarian and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. The use of peaceful civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs advanced civil rights and earned him worldwide recognition.
“Our 2019 theme, ‘CommUNITY’ takes on even greater significance this year,” said R. L. Doyle, MLK Holiday Coalition chair. “A strong show of unity is needed to demonstrate the significance of this Holiday for the entire Oklahoma City Community.”
The coalition works to honor the legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through events that continue his values and aspirations for equality and justice for all people.
The 2019 MLK celebration will kick off on Sunday, January 20 at 3 p.m., with the Annual MLK Program at St John Missionary Baptist Church, 5700 N. Kelly, led by Rev. Dr. M.L. Jemison.
On Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m., a Cross Cultural Program will be held at Temple B’nai Israel, 4901 N. Pennsylvania Avenue. The event is free and open to the public. A meal is served and program follows with a guest speaker, music and other entertainment.
On Monday, Jan. 21, beginning at 7 a.m., the 22nd Annual Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, chaired by Zeke Jenkins, will be held at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel in the Reed Conference Center, 5800 Will Rogers Road. Table sponsorships are $300 (table of 8) and individual tickets are $20. Tickets will be available at the door, unless sold out.
Keynote speaker for this year’s breakfast is the newly elected State Senator Dr. George Young, Sr., Democrat from Senate District 48. The theme is “The March Continues,” in recognition of the civil rights movement, Dr. King’s work and the unfinished journey.
“More than 500 people attend the annual MWC MLK Breakfast to be inspired by keynote speakers, youth presenters, singers and musicians,” said Nathanial Batchelder, director of the Oklahoma City Peace House who attends each year.
The annual Silent March, representing the true spirit of the modern Civil Rights Movement, will begin at 9 a.m. at the Freedom Center, 2609 North Martin Luther King Blvd., and travel west on 23rd to the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, just east of the state Capitol building.
The Annual King Holiday Program will take place from 12:15 – 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, located at 127 N.W.7, in downtown Oklahoma City. Event speakers to be announced.
The organization’s signature event, the annual MLK Holiday Parade will have a new parade route this year. The parade will step off at 2 p.m. from the intersection of N.W. 6th Street and Walker and head south towards Reno Ave. This year’s Grand Marshalls will be the OKC Sit-Inners and Minute Men.
“As your King Holiday Parade planners for the past thirty-eight years, we have worked diligently to make this event inclusive of all races, creeds and religions,” Doyle said.
“Thanks to the thousands of patrons who lined the streets to watch, last year’s King Holiday Parade was a success,” Doyle added.
A special point of emphasis in the parade will be the enforcement of the prohibition against throwing candy from vehicles of parade participants.
Organizers say the proper procedure is to have someone in each organization to walk along and hand out candy rather than throwing it. Also, each entry must provide one parade marshal to work with the coalition.
All participants must register and be approved to participate in the parade. Each entry must display the 2019 theme: CommUNITY.
Register by Jan. 4 for the early entry fee of $45. Jan. 4 – 11 the fee is $55. No Charge for Middle School and High School Bands and ROTC. No applications will be accepted after Jan. 11.
The 2019 OKC MLK Coalition Job Fair will be held on Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Douglass High School, 900 N. MLK Jr. Blvd. It is free of charge to all job seekers.
For more event updates or to become a sponsor, visit okcmlk.org.