As part of the observance of the national Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday celebration, the Martin Luther King, Jr., West Virginia Holiday Commission, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and West Virginia State University (WVSU) will sponsor three events from Saturday, Jan. 17, through Monday, Jan. 19, 2009. Activities include an awards ceremony, an evening gala featuring performances by West Virginia artists and an ecumenical commemoration and celebration service, symbolic march and the annual bell-ringing ceremony. All activities, with the exception of the awards ceremony, are free and open to the public.
The weekend’s activities begin on Saturday with an invitation-only awards ceremony honoring 24 young people, five individuals and four service organizations. The awards ceremony will be held at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex. Awards will be given for the YWCA’s 16th annual “Project on Racism” essay contest, The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s 24th annual poster contest, the Service Organization Honor Roll and the “Living the Dream” awards.
The Commission, the Division and WVSU also will sponsor a gala evening program in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, on Saturday evening, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. Entitled “The Dream is Alive,” the gala will feature musical selections by the Appalachian Children’s Chorus, Selina Midkiff, director; Ethel Caffie-Austin of Dunbar, West Virginia’s “First Lady of Gospel Music;” and Gloria Thompson of London, a gifted performer who has been singing since the age of three. In addition, Arley Johnson of Huntington, will perform an oral interpretation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Johnson also will deliver a dramatic presentation on J. R. Clifford. Clifford, who died in 1933, was West Virginia’s first African-American attorney, whose 1898 argument in Williams v. Board of Education earned a landmark, separate-but-equal decision; co-founder of the Niagara Movement; founder of The Pioneer Press, West Virginia’s longest running black-owned publication of its era. He graduated from Storer College in Harpers Ferry, taught and served as principal at Sumner School in Martinsburg and was a Civil War veteran. A reception with light refreshments with follow the program.
On Monday, Jan. 19, an ecumenical service of commemoration and celebration of King will begin at 8:30 a.m., at the Asbury United Methodist Church, 501 Elizabeth St., Charleston. The symbolic march from the church will join the gubernatorial inaugural parade on the boulevard and proceed to the State Capitol. The bell-ringing ceremony will be part of the inauguration observance which begins at 1 p.m. Participants are invited for light refreshments in the Great Hall of the Cultural Center immediately following the inauguration ceremony.
For more information or to find out more about the state’s Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday activities, call Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220 or visit the Commission’s Web site at www.wvmlkholidaycommission.org. The weekend phone number for information is (304) 558-0162.
The national Martin Luther King, Jr., 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. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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