A Dream that Continues Today
In January, our nation recognizes the birthday of one of the most visible advocates of nonviolent and direct action for social change, Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). Dr. King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became an official federal holiday on November 2, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed the bill passed by Congress.
Over the next eight years, states began recognizing the federal holiday as a holiday as well. In 1994, in keeping with Dr. King’s legacy of advocacy and assistance for others, Congress designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service, making it the only federal holiday so observed. The MLK Day of Service is a featured part of United We Serve (http://www.serve.gov/index.asp), the President’s call for Americans from all walks of life to work together to toward solutions to our most pressing national problems. The national holiday celebration occurs on the third Monday in January. On October 16, 2011, a monument to Dr. King was dedicated in Washington, D.C., making his the first on the prestigious National Mall honoring a civilian.
In the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to equality, state human rights protection agencies, such as the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), were created. Established in 1958, the MCHR’s goal is to foster mutual understanding and eliminate discrimination through education and outreach and the enforcement of the Missouri Human Rights Act. MCHR is authorized to investigate complaints in employment, public accommodations, and housing – if the reason for the alleged discrimination is based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age (40-69 in employment only), and familial status (families with children under the age of 18 in housing only). If you believe you have been discriminated against due a protected category, contact MCHR at (877) 781-4236 or take this quick assessment to determine if the MHRA applies to your situation.
The MLK Day of Service is “A Day ON, Not a Day Off” and is the perfect time for Americans to actively work toward solutions to social problems and move our nation closer to achieving its ideals, to which Dr. King’s vision challenged us. MLK Day is a national celebration, but its emphasis is on local action, working close to home to create a better, more equitable and just society. You can celebrate MLK Day by participating any of these or many other inspiring events around our state:
Central Missouri Events
- The 2012 Official State MLK Celebration will be held on Friday, January 13, 2012, in the Ballroom of the Governor’s Office Building, 200 Madison Street, in Jefferson City, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. This event will be the culmination of a promotion of the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in the community. Like them on Facebook.
- The Columbia NAACP will host the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program. A brief ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Stadium Boulevard, followed by a motorcade from the MLK Memorial to Second Baptist Church at 407 East Broadway. Upon the motorcade’s arrival, a celebration program will begin at Second Baptist Church. A free community luncheon will be served following the program. For further information, contact Mary Ratliff by phone at (573) 445-3231 or (573) 881-0163 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
- The Columbia Values Diversity Celebration will be held on Thursday, January 12, 2012 and brings people together from throughout the community to share breakfast and a special program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The highlight of the event is an original artistic program. The annual Columbia Values Diversity Awards will also be presented at the Celebration. If you would like more information or to be added to their celebration mailing list, visit http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/CommunityServices/Programs/CVDC/index.php or call (573) 874-7488 (voice) or (573) 874-7356 (TTY).
- The University of Missouri at Columbia celebrates “Martin Luther King, Jr. 2012: Share the Dream, Live the Reality” with featured speaker, comedian, writer and producer Larry Wilmore. As “The Senior Black Correspondent” on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Wilmore brings his unique comic perspective to news, trends, pop culture, current events, politics, sports, and entertainment on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, with a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. and presentation from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Missouri Theatre, 203 South Ninth Street in Columbia. http://diversity.missouri.edu/mlk/
Eastern Missouri Events
- The 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Kick-off Program will feature legendary activist, comedian, nutritionist, and St. Louis native Dick Gregory as keynote speaker. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in the main auditorium of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. Mr. Gregory will enlighten an audience of more than 1,200 at this year's celebration, themed “Strength, Sacrifice and Service: Empowering a New Generation.” More information is at http://www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/article_f4fd3fda-1f82-11e1-a178-001871e3ce6c.html.
- The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park in St. Louis presents, “I May Not Get There with You,” a multimedia MLK commemoration focusing on the speeches delivered in the last year of Dr. King’s life. The presentation explores key moments through poetry, imagery, and sound on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.
- The University of Missouri St. Louis Celebrates MLK Day at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on Monday, January 16, 2012, at 10 a.m. with the theme: “How can we further Dr. King’s legacy of service in today’s economic climate?” The celebrative program, sponsored by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, will honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and will feature a keynote speaker, presentations, and performances by local choirs and musicians. A concurrent program for children ages 5-12 requires parental registration. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit Harris Stowe State University's flyer or contact Deborah Burris or Dana Beteet Daniels at (314) 516-5695.
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at Washington University in St. Louis on January 16, 2012 at 4 p.m. is a celebration of the life and legacy of the civil rights leader. Special guest will be Melissa V. Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the project on gender, race and politics in the South. She previously served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Princeton University. She is author of the award winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought and her new book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America. The lecture is sponsored by The Office of Diversity Programs at Washington University School of Medicine, and admission is free. For more information, contact the Office of Diversity Programs at (314) 362-6854 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Essay Contest and Awards Presentation will be held on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 3 p.m. at St. Alphonsus Liguori “Rock” Catholic Church at 1118 North Grand Boulevard in St. Louis. As part of the contest, students in St. Louis City Public and Catholic Middle Schools, grades 6 – 8 write essays on a given theme of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Life and Legacy, with the top three winners receiving U.S. savings bonds. The guest speaker will be Dr. Michelle McClure, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs at Harris-Stowe State University. A children’s choir, liturgical dancers, and others will also be featured. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Commissioner Anita Banks of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Committee at (314) 382-9545 or visit http://www.stalphonsusrock.org/site/Portals/0/Bulletin122610Final.pdf.
- Organization for Black Struggle 32nd Anniversary Celebration will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at St. Louis Gateway Classic Foundation, 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. This dinner program is sponsored by the Organization for Black Struggle/Youth Council for Positive Development. Admission is $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $25 for elders and students. For more information, contact Kalimu Endesha at (314) 229-7018 or email@example.com.
Western Missouri Events
- The University of Central Missouri's Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration will have several related events. Programs include: Community Service Awards on Wednesday, January 11, 2012; Warrensburg Community Ecumenical Service on Sunday, January 15, 2012; Gospel Concert on Monday, January 16, 2012; MLK Freedom Scholarship Dinner, featuring keynote speaker Michele Norris, an award-winning journalist and the co-host of National Public Radio’s longest-running national program, All Things Considered (tickets must be purchased in advance through the Community Engagement Office or the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center at 100 S. Holden Street); Issues Forum “From Civil War to Civil Rights” on Thursday, January 19, 2012; and Community Blood Drive on January 24 and 25, 2012. http://www.ucmo.edu/diversity/mlk/
- The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City is sponsoring a week of events (some ticketed, many free and open to the public) celebrating Dr. King and his legacy, including an interfaith service, unity parade, community forum, and mass celebration. Visit here for more details.
- The MLK, Jr. State Celebration in Kansas City will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. at St James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne, where Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III is Senior Pastor. The theme of the event is “Out of the Mountain of Despair, A Stone of Hope!” Special guest speakers will include: Kansas City Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James; City Councilman John Sharp; Mr. Alvin Brooks, president of Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and Mr. Jesse Barnes, executive director Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. Musical guests will include: the Academy Orchestra of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, Russell Berlin Jr., director; opera singers Roberta Gumbel and Nathan Granner; the combined choirs of the MW Conference of the AME Church and St. James UMC Choir. Other performances will include those by: the Ginger Frost High School Honors Artist of the Lyric Opera; The Honorable Jon R. Gray, narrator; dancers; Christian rap artists; soloists; and a poet. The event is in its tenth year and is sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration Commission. It is co-sponsored by the Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Connections Committee, Joanne Bluford, president. The Sorority will be collecting canned food and hats/gloves for children. Volunteers are from Omicron Xi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Voter registration will also be provided. A free-will offering will be collected. For more information, contact local chairperson Commissioner Lessie Thompson by phone at (816) 763-1232 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northeast Missouri Event
- The Multicultural Affairs Center of Truman State University in Kirksville will host the 4th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Collegiate Challenge on Monday, January 16, 2012 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Student volunteers will go out into the Kirksville community and make their day off of school a day “on” to help community partners with projects that they may not have the time or resources to complete. The event will close with a reflection dinner Monday evening. Call (660) 785-4142 or visit http://newsletter.truman.edu/article.asp?id=6857 for more information.
Southwest Missouri Event
- The NAACP Springfield, Missouri Chapter’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March & Celebration is set for Monday, January 16, 2012. The march begins promptly at 9:30 a.m. at the Mediacom Center, followed by the 10 a.m. celebration at Clara Thompson Hall at Drury University. The guest speaker is Dr. Tererai Trent. For additional information, contact the NAACP Springfield Branch Office at (417) 873-6386 or visit http://naacpspringfieldmo.org/?p=158.
Southeast Missouri Event
- The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner will be held at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 6 p.m. The keynote speaker will be L. Douglas Wilder, the first elected African-American governor in U.S. history. The event is sponsored by Office of Equity and Diversity Issues at Southeast Missouri State University. Individual tickets and tables are available for purchase through the Show Me Center box office at (573) 651-5000 or http://www.showmecenter.biz/. For more information, contact the Office of Equity and Diversity Issues at (573) 651-2524 or email@example.com.
Additional MLK Day activities across the state are listed here.
For more information on Dr. King, his life and legacy of social justice, visit the website of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. The center, begun in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King, is located in Atlanta, Georgia. Through programming and partnerships, the center is a living memorial to the social ideals of Dr. King, who challenged us to live up to the highest ideals expressed in our nation’s founding documents.
However you choose to celebrate our newest national holiday, we encourage you to seek ways you can work in your community to help make our America a place of freedom, opportunity, fairness and justice, which are the hallmarks of the American dream. Enjoy the holiday and do something good in your community – remember to support the MLK Day of Service as “A Day ON, not a Day Off.”