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 (MLKWVHC), the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) and West Virginia State University (WVSU) will sponsor three events from Saturday, Jan. 15, through Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. 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 21 young people, five individuals and three 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 18th annual “Project on Racism” essay contest, The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s 26th 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. 15, at
7 p.m. Entitled “Silver Anniversary–25 Years: Reflection and Renewal,” the program will celebrate the memory of Dr. King, and there will be a power point presentation on the origins of the MLKWVHC as well as a talk by Dr. Hazo W. Carter, Jr., about the history of the Commission. Carter is the chair of the commission and president of West Virginia State University. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will address visitors as well as the keynote speaker, Carrie Webster, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge.
The gala will feature musical selections by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Male Chorus, Marshall Murray, director; and the Capital High School VIPs, Kathleen Corbett, director. There also will be a dance selection by River City Youth Ballet, Michelle Raider, director; poetry selections by Caleb Stacey, 2010 West Virginia Poetry Out Loud runner-up and a current freshman at West Virginia University; and a selected reading from the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Jeff Pierson, director of arts for the Division. In addition, the Commission will announce this year’s Charlene Hodges Byrd scholarship winners who both will perform–Marien Stark with a dance selection and Nick Naylor with a musical selection. Byrd, who passed away in 2009, was a member of the MLKWVHC who spent more than 40 years of her professional life in public education.
On Monday, Jan. 17, 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 Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, or visit the Commission’s website at www.wvmlkholidaycommission.org.
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 is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.