A Dream that Continues Today
In January, our nation recognizes the birthday of one of the most visible advocates of nonviolent direct action for social change, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929, and we mark his birthday with a host of celebrations each year throughout the United States. Dr. King’s birthday became a federal holiday on Nov. 2, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill passed by Congress.
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, the President's national call-to-service initiative, asking Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to the nation's most pressing problems. The national holiday celebration occurs on the third Monday in January. On Oct. 16, 2011, a monument to Dr. King was dedicated in Washington, D.C., the first on the prestigious National Mall honoring a civilian.
In the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to equality, state human rights 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. The MCHR investigates complaints of discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodations because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age (in employment only), and familial status (in housing only). If you believe you have been discriminated against due one of these protected categories, contact the MCHR at 877-781-4236 or take this quick assessment to determine if the MHRA applies to your situation.
The theme of 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 the ideals of Dr. King. 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 in any of these or many other inspiring events around our state:
Central Missouri Events
- Rolla: Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T) is a time for students, faculty, staff, and community members to reflect both on the legacy of Dr. King and how they as individuals can work to build a more socially-conscious and just society. Students, faculty, staff of S&T, and community members are invited to participate in the celebration on Jan. 21. The day opens at 8 a.m. with registration and a light breakfast, followed by service projects later in the morning. A celebration luncheon with keynote speaker LaWanda Jones begins at noon. The afternoon session will give participants the opportunity to discuss the steps that need to be taken to build a stronger community. For more information, contact S&T Student Life at email@example.com.
- Columbia: The University of Missouri celebrates “Dare to Take Charge: How to Live & Lead with Purpose” with featured speaker Judge Glenda Hatchett, former judge and television personality. Nationally recognized as an expert on juvenile and social issues, Judge Hatchett speaks with authority on saving the generations of today and the future. The event will be held on Jan. 30 with a reception from 6-7 p.m. and presentation from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Missouri Theatre, 203 South Ninth Street. Free tickets are available beginning Jan. 14 at the Missouri Theatre and MSA/GPC Box Offices. For more information, call 573-882-5838 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Columbia: The Columbia Values Diversity Celebration on Jan. 17 brings people together throughout the community to share breakfast and a special program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Attendees will enjoy breakfast, an address by keynote speaker Martin Luther King III, and Clyde Ruffin’s original performance with a chorus of 100 singers. The annual Columbia Values Diversity Awards also will be presented at the celebration. Pre-registration is required, and the deadline to register is 5 p.m. on Jan. 11. For additional information, contact HumanServices@GoColumbiaMo.com, call 573-874-7488, or TTY 573-874-7356.
Eastern Missouri Events
- St. Louis: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri will host its 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Kick-off on Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Harris-Stowe State University’s Main Auditorium. Founder, president, CEO, and executive producer of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Xernona Clayton, will serve as the keynote speaker for the event, which is themed, “Women Who Dare to Dream.” Contact Courtney McCall at 314-340-3391 or email@example.com for more information.
- St. Louis: Join the University of Missouri- St. Louis and the St. Louis community on Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. for their MLK Day Celebration at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, One University Boulevard. Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a provocative economist, author, and commentator will be the guest speaker. A special media presentation will capture the event’s theme, “50 Years of Fulfilling the Dream.” Musical guests will include the talented Dickson String Quartet, the Trinity Mt. Carmel Church Mass Choir, and other artists. A program for children ages 5 to 11, hosted by the University’s College of Education, will run concurrently. For more information, call 314-516-4100.
- St. Louis: The Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at Washington University in St. Louis will be held Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. in the Eric P. Newman Center at Washington University School of Medicine, 320 South Euclid Avenue. Dr. David R. Williams, of Harvard University, will be the guest speaker. He is internationally recognized as a leading social scientist focused on social influences on health and was a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? To RSVP, call the Office of Diversity Programs at 314-362-6854, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- University City: Make plans to join the University City community at 2 p.m. on Jan. 19 for the 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Communitywide Celebration. This year’s theme is “What’s YOUR Dream?” The event starts on the front lawn of Jackson Park School, 7400 Balson Avenue, with a “Positive Protest March” lead by University City High School’s drum line. The program immediately follows in the UCHS Charles Banks auditorium, 7401 Balson Avenue. New this year is a “Positive Family Poster Project.” Community members and families are encouraged to create signs, in keeping with the theme, to carry as they march. Sign carriers will receive a raffle ticket as they enter the auditorium, and participants will be invited on stage to compete in a drawing for donated prizes and gift cards. Contact co-chairs Lillian Blackshear-Bryant Summers at email@example.com or CarolAnn Cole at 314-290-4019 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Western Missouri Events
- Lee’s Summit: The 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 in the Pavilion at John Knox Village, 520 Northwest Murray Road. This is an exciting event celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King through music, dance, and inspirational words.
- Independence: The City of Independence will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Truman Memorial Building, 416 East Maple. The theme of the 2013 event is “The Struggle Continues.” The program will be “Dr. King Speaks through Our Young People,” and the Chris Kelly Praise Dancers will perform.
- Warrensburg: The University of Central Missouri's Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will have several related events. Programs include the MLK Service Day “Keeping the Dream Alive Through Service” on Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, contact Kristie Brinkley or Ashley McCullough at 660-543-4007. The MLK Freedom Scholarship Dinner on Jan. 22 will feature keynote speaker Governor Douglas Wilder, the first elected African American governor in the United States. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Elliott Union Ballroom, 500 South Holden Street. Tickets must be purchased in advance through the Office of Community Engagement, Elliott Union 224, 660-543-4156.
- Kansas City: The King Day Youth Parade and Rally Celebration will be held on Jan. 21, beginning with the parade at 11 a.m. at the corner of The Paseo and East Truman Boulevard. The event will highlight youthful talent in local bands, steppers, cheerleaders, and drum corps, who will perform in the parade and participate in a friendly competition for prizes. Youth leaders will be given an opportunity to speak about their visualization of, and dreams for, the Kansas City community. In case of inclement weather, the celebration will be held at Manuel Technical Career Center, 1215 East Truman Road. For more information, call 816-231-3555, 816-891-1707, or 816-914-6210, or e-mail email@example.com.
- Kansas City: Join Metropolitan Community College (MCC) for the Fourth Annual MLK Day of Service. Each MCC campus will host a number of community service projects as a special way to celebrate the day with friends and fun. There are many projects to choose from, including light cleaning at City Union Mission, making fleece blankets for Children’s Mercy Hospital in conjunction with the Penn Valley campus, painting and reorganizing at Hillcrest Transitional Housing at the Blue River campus, packing backpacks with food for Harvesters Community Food Network with the Business & Technology College, preparing a meal for residents of Synergy Women's Center at the Maple Woods campus, or helping to prepare fabric for quilts or working with youth at the Langsford Boys Home at the Longview campus. Contact the Campus Life and Leadership Office on the campus of your choice to find out more: Blue River 816-604-6635, Business & Technology 816-604-5263, Longview 816-604-2130, Maple Woods 816-604-3013, or Penn Valley 816-604-4120.
- Kansas City: The Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration in Kansas City will be held on Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne. The theme of the event is “The Success of Our Journey Begins with the First Step.” The celebration is co-sponsored by the Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northeast Missouri Event
- Kirksville: On Jan. 21, the Multicultural Affairs Center at Truman State University will host the 4th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegiate Challenge. This year students, faculty, and staff volunteers will go out into the local community and make their day off from school “A Day On” by helping community partners with projects that they may not have the time or resources to complete. The event begins with registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies, team building activities, and the completion of projects. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Southwest Missouri Event
- Springfield: The NAACP Springfield Chapter, in conjunction with the Missouri State University Multicultural Resource Center, will hold its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March & Celebration on Jan. 21. The march begins at 9:30 a.m. at Medicom Ice Park, 635 East Trafficway, proceeds north across the MLK Bridge, and ends at the Gillioz Theatre on Park Central Square, 325 Park Central East, where the rally will be held. Guest speakers, music, and awards will begin at 10 a.m. and end at noon. For additional information, contact Cheryl Clay at 417-873-6386 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Logan Franklin at 417-836-5652 or Logan777@MissouriState.edu.
Southeast Missouri Event
- Cape Girardeau: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner will be held at the Show Me Center on Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. Recording artist, singer/songwriter, and philanthropist John Legend will present the keynote address. 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 www.semo.edu/mlk. For more information, contact the Office of Equity & Diversity Issues at 573-651-2524 or email@example.com.
- For more information on Dr. King’s life and legacy of social justice, plan a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. The center was opened in 1968 thanks to the dedication of Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King, to the ideals of the American Civil Rights movement. The repository there consists of the papers of Dr. King and those of the organization he co-founded, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as the records of eight major civil rights organizations and of several individuals active in the movement. The archives also include more than 200 oral history interviews with Dr. King’s teachers, friends, family, and civil rights associates. The King Center is at the hub of a 23-acre National Historic Site, which brings one million visitors each year. Free attractions include the birth home, the crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King, exhibits at Freedom Hall, gift shop/information facility, and reflecting pool. For more information, call 404-526-8900.
- Visit the website of the Corporation for National and Community Service to find out more about the MLK Day of Service. The site includes MLK Day Legacy of videos featuring civil rights luminaries Congressman John Lewis, Ruby Bridges, Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, and former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, reminding us of the importance of keeping Dr. King's legacy of service alive and challenging us to make service a part of our everyday lives. Find a MLK Day of Service project in your community or list your project so others can participate. For more information, e-mail MLKDay@cns.gov.
If you choose to celebrate, we encourage you to seek ways you can work in your community to help make America a place of freedom, opportunity, fairness, and justice, which are hallmarks of the American dream. Enjoy the holiday, and do something positive in your community – remembering to support the MLK Day of Service as “A Day On, Not a Day Off.”