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Bob Thompson Unit, Carpenter Ants and Ethel Caffie-Austin to headline free Cultural Center celebration of Martin Luther King holiday


As part of the observance of the national Martin Luther King Day holiday, the West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will sponsor a gala this weekend featuring performances by rhythm and blues group The Carpenter Ants, gospel singer Ethel Caffie-Austin, the Alderson Dance Ensemble, Fairmont singer Larissa Willett and the Bob Thompson Unit. The program begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, in the West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex. Admission to the gala is free on a first-come, first-seated basis. A reception in the Cultural Center’s Great Hall will follow the program.

Other Martin Luther King Day activities planned by the Commission and the Division include an ecumenical service to be held in tribute to King. The service is open to the public and will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 501 Elizabeth St., Charleston. Following the service, there will be a march from the church to the State Capitol for the symbolic ringing of the state’s Liberty Bell. Held annually on Martin Luther King Day, the bell-ringing ceremony will take place at noon on the steps of the north face of the Capitol. A reception at the Cultural Center will follow the ceremony.

In April, the Commission will present “Living the Dream” awards to five West Virginians who best exemplify the principles characterizing King in his pursuit of social change. For information about nominating people for these awards or to find out more about the state’s Martin Luther King Day holiday activities, call the Division at (304) 558-0220, ext. 120. Visit the Commission’s website at

The national Martin Luther King Day holiday was designated by the U.S. Congress in 1983. It is observed on the third Monday in January, falling on or near King’s Jan. 15 birthday.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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