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MLK Day Observances Abound in Metro Detroit This January

As far as federal holidays go, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day brings about its own distinctive types of festivities. Memorial Day ushers in the season of summer. Independence Day is a day for patriotism, parades and fireworks. Labor Day is both the unofficial end of summer and a day to spend at the backyard grill.

But Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, (MLK) Day, spurs people to ponder the rights we enjoy in this nation and the dear price some have paid in order to partake of those rights. The day also propels people to action, to do something good for their fellow man and their community.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. In the months that followed, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. introduced the first legislation calling for January 15, King's birthday, to be observed as a federal holiday. The idea was not initially popular. It took 15 years for the proposed legislation to gain support, and on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law. MLK Day was first observed in the United States the third Monday of January in 1986, making King the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday.

This year, MLK Day will be Monday, January 21. To help you find a way to observe and ponder the day, we have listed a few events happening in the community on that day.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will be holding its 19th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Breakfast and Lecture, beginning at 7 a.m. and running until 10 a.m. The keynote speaker will be Gloria J. Brown-Marshall, attorney, author, and professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College in New York. The title of the address will be "The King in All of Us-Igniting the Activist Spirit." Tickets for the breakfast and lecture are $35 or $15 for the lecture only.

Following the breakfast, the festivities continue, with performances, workshops, crafts, and storytelling for all ages. Events will run until 5 p.m. For more information, visit

In Southfield, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force will be presenting a Peace Walk and Celebration Program beginning at 9:30 a.m. The Peace Walk will begin at Hope United Methodist Church and continue about one and a half miles east to the Southfield Pavilion, located in the Southfield Municipal Complex at 26000 Evergreen Road. A commemorative program will begin at 11 the pavilion.

Hope United Methodist Church is located at 26275 Northwestern Highway in Southfield. The event is free and open to anyone. For more information, see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force's website at

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will be presenting family-friendly activities beginning at 11 a.m. The DIA's Laura Skimin says MLK is usually very busy at the DIA. "Most children have the day off school, so we invite families to come to the DIA to participate in the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and legacy," says Skimin. The museum will present Gallery Adventures from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Gallery Games from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both activities will provide games, tours, and engagement activities for children and their families. In the museum's studio from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., youngsters and adults can create pamphlet stitch notebooks, one to keep and one to donate to a local school.

At 1 p.m. in the museum's Detroit Film Theater, the 1970 documentary, "King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis" will be shown. The film is a compilation of archival footage featuring King's speeches, protests and arrests. Following its release, the film was nominated for an Academy Award. The film has been restored to full-length by the Library of Congress and runs 185 minutes. There will be no additional charge to the Detroit Film Theater. For further information on these events, see the DIA's website at

The Ypsilanti District Library will be presenting two free activities for adults and youth. At 2 p.m. at the library's Michigan Avenue Branch, historian and author Willie W. Payne will present a program titled, "Michigan's Underground Railroad." Payne will use music and photos to explain how Michigan's abolitionists played a role in the Underground Railroad, which helped fugitive slaves escape the south.

At 6:30 p.m. at the library's Whittaker Road Branch, Akili Jackson will be performing music and poetry to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Young people will be encouraged to take the mike and express themselves. Library Director Joy Cichewicz says Jackson is "building bridges with music, with poetry, using words and especially, helping kids to bring out their thoughts into a poetry slam, rap kind of program. He's a wonderful man." Ypsilanti District Library's two branches are located at 5577 Whittaker Road, and 229 West Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti. For further details, call 734-482-4110 or visit

Westland Celebrates Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Freedom Walk and Ceremony.

Andrew Humphrey, Meteorologist and reporter at WDIV, will deliver the Keynote Address at the City of Westland's annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ceremony on Monday, January 21.

Participants are asked to gather at Westland City Hall, located at 36300 Warren Rd. beginning at 8:30 a.m. From there, weather permitting, participants will be shuttled to the Westland Public Library for the Annual Freedom Walk, which will begin at 9 a.m. The Freedom Walk will honor all of those who marched with Dr. King over 50 years ago. The short walk will end at Westland City Hall.

City Hall doors will open beginning at 8:30 am. The ceremony, which begins at 10:00 a.m. will include uplifting messages from Mayor Wild and other state and local elected officials. Light refreshments will be provided by the Westland Police Community Partnership Committee.

Mayor Wild commented . "Every year I am humbled by the incredible turnout for this event which signifies unity in the City of Westland. We honor Dr. King by remembering his life, legacy and vision and by reflecting on how we can best live up to his dream today."

The City of Romulus, the Romulus Ministerial Alliance and the Romulus Community Schools Invite the Community to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Standing Up for Democracy!

Please join us at 8:00 am for the Community March from Romulus Middle School (37300 Wick Rd.) to Romulus High School (9650 Wayne Road).

(Shuttle Service provided from RHS to Middle School from 7:00 am to 7:45 am)

8:00 AM

Pancake Breakfast begins at Romulus High School Cafeteria, sponsored by Romulus Rotary Club

9:30 AM

Celebration Program Begins in RHS Auditorium

Please contact Rev. Arthur Willis, Committee Chairman, at (313) 701-2423 or Ellen Craig-Bragg at (734) 955-4545, for more information.


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