The nation paused today to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just as many across the country paraded and reflected, this writer was privileged to attend several of the many celebrations, each unique in its own way, but toward a common goal - to teach another generation about the contributions of this great humanitarian.
Sunday January 19, 2014 at Baltimore's Ark Church, children from ages 4 - 12 performed a chronological trek through history with songs and a skit. They took the congregants on a journey from the years 1929 - 1968. They sang, read and spoke of Dr. King's dream of peace, love and equality for all people. They also spoke of the character and actions of Dr. King and provided a segment of the infamous 'I Have a Dream' speech. Ark Church is located at 1263 E. North Avenue.
Then Monday, January 20, 2014 the famed Baltimore City College High School Choir performed at the Memorial Episcopal Church, located at 1407 Bolton Hill Avenue. The choir performed a wonderful tribute through song. They sang, 'I'll Never Turn Back No More' and 'Down at the River'. They also impressed the crowd with Roland Carter's choral arrangement of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing', also known as the Negro National Anthem. Additional selections were presented by the Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School and Memorial Episcopal Church choirs.
Later that evening, middle and high schoolers took Baltimore's Center Stage by storm as they performed messages of peace, dreams, equality and change. There were elite and eclectic performances through poetry, dance, and theater by the Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team, Connexions School for the Arts, Muse 360, To Be Determined and Center Stage's Teen Theater Program, Encounter. The event was hosted by the energetic and charismatic Femi The Drifish, a well-known spoken word artist in the Baltimore area. An additional feature was The 5th L, as Femi's spoken word partner, David Ross, joined him onstage, to the delight of the audience. The program was free and open to the public and included quotes by Dr. King, Coretta Scott King, Nelson Mandela and President Barack Obama. The audience was encouraged to participate in various ways by snapping, clapping or a call and response method. The celebration was organized by Rosalind Cauthen of Center Stage's Education Department.
Of course, like most cities, there was an MLK Day parade in Baltimore. Crowds and crowds of spectators gathered along Martin Luther King Boulevard to witness the event and cheer on the participants. The two hour mid-day procession included many colorful costumes, marching bands, motorcycles, fraternities and sororities, awareness groups as well as political, television and radio personalities. This was the 14th year for the MLK Day Parade in the Baltimore area.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. It was his dream to have a world of peace and equality for everyone, regardless of the color of an individual's skin. He was instrumental in bringing about the change he desired to see and advocated non-violence. Dr. King was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
There was something for each person to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this his special day as we honor his legacy and celebrate his dream so that we will become the change we want to see in the world.