January 14, 2010
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. 16, through Monday,
Jan. 18, 2010. 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 23 young people, five individuals and four service organizations. The awards ceremony will be held at the Culture Center in the State Capitol complex, in Charleston. Awards will be given for the YWCA’s 17th annual “Project on Racism” essay contest, The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s 25th 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. 16, at
7 p.m. Entitled “We are the Dream – A Life Dedicated to Learning,” the program will honor Dr. Charlene Hodges Byrd, and the Commission will announce a newly created annual scholarship which will be awarded in her name. Byrd was a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr., West Virginia Holiday Commission who spent more than 40 years of her professional life in public education. She passed away in 2009.
The gala will feature musical selections by the Appalachian Children’s Chorus, Selina Midkiff, director; Fredrica Dooley-Brown, a student at Shenandoah University Music Conservatory in Winchester, Va., with accompanist Linda Ealy on piano; the Clay Center Steel Drums, also under the direction of Linda Ealy, and Angie Richardson, a contemporary traditional gospel singer from Charleston. In addition, there will be a dance selection by Desiree Hall of the Elite Performance Academy, Marlo Shaver Wentz, director; a mime performance by A’Rielle Barksdale, a student at South Charleston High School; poetry selections by Jasmine Lewis, 2009 West Virginia Poetry Outloud winner from Spring Valley High School, and selected readings from the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Monday, Jan. 18, an ecumenical service of commemoration and celebration of King will begin at 10 a.m., at the Asbury United Methodist Church, 501 Elizabeth St., Charleston. The symbolic march from the church to the north side of the State Capitol in the fountain circle for the bell-ringing ceremony will take place approximately at noon. Participants are invited for cake in the Great Hall of the Culture Center immediately following the ceremony.
For more information or to find out more about the state’s Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday activities, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, or visit the Commission’s Web site at
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 mission of the Martin Luther King, Jr., West Virginia Holiday Commission is to provide programs celebrating the life and principles of King’s philosophy of non-violence, lengthening his legacy. Strengthened by diversity, the Commission draws together members who strive to create opportunity for growth, leadership and power in order to attain a common vision: peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.
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 Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture 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.