Community members will gather Monday for a birthday party in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to be held at L.H. Jones Auditorium in Mount Airy.
The free event, slated to begin at 11 a.m. in the facility located at 215 Jones School Road, will feature special remarks highlighting the civil rights pioneer’s legacy, music and the showing of a video of his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech.
Everyone is invited to the party sponsored by the Surry County branch of the NAACP.
This is the 28th year that the organization has scheduled a birthday event in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, being observed this year on Monday.
However, the upcoming party will have an altered format compared to past gatherings, according to local NAACP President Faye Carter.
Those have been luncheon events including a special guest delivering a speech, which was changed for 2018.
“We’re not going to have a speaker,” Carter said. “We’re not going to be doing a big meal.”
Carter explained that organizers wanted to plan something a little different this year, seemingly less formal.
“We just want to make it a celebration of him,” she said of King.
• A traditional singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by those in attendance will open Monday’s activities.
• That will lead into a presentation by Marie Nicholson, who is scheduled to provide welcoming remarks and a short history of the NAACP. “She’s going to be tying that in to Martin Luther King’s life,” Carter said of Nicholson.
• A local youth also is scheduled to perform a song.
• The showing of the “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered by King as part of a march on Washington in 1963, is another highlight of Monday’s program.
• Carter also plans to play a role in honoring that legacy. “I will do some quotes from Dr. King,” the NAACP president said.
• Food will still have a place on the program menu, she added. “We’re going to have some hors d’oeuvres and refreshments like you do at a birthday party.”
In addition to the NAACP, representatives of other organizations including the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Surry County and the local branch of the National Association of University Women are expected to be represented at Monday’s event.
Though it is free and open to the public, those attending are encouraged to bring canned goods to aid the needy or cold-weather items for seniors, such as gloves, socks, scarves, thermal wear and sweatshirts/sweatpants, along with hygiene products.
Monetary donations also will be accepted, although Monday’s event “is not a fundraiser,” Carter was quick to note.
“You can still come if you don’t bring something.”
• Also celebrating Dr. King’s life is a program at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History on Saturday.
“In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Surry Countians Continuing the Dream” starts at 7 p.m. Saturday in the museum, 301 N. Main St. The event is open to the public, free of charge.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.