More than 40 years after the death of the brightest icon of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., people are still gathering to remember the gains and losses his life represents. Several events have been planned in the area to commemorate his life and work.
In Franklin, a parade is scheduled on Monday, Jan. 17, beginning at 1 p.m. The parade will start at the Big Bear Park in downtown Franklin, and process from there to the Gazebo on the square off of Main Street. A short program will be held at the Gazebo in honor of the King’s legacy.
A slew of events has also been coordinated by Western Carolina University to commemorate King’s indelible impression on the national landscape. To begin the weekend, a new exhibit will be unveiled at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, at the Hinds University Center on Western’s main campus. The 15 panel exhibition “With all Deliberate Speed: School Desegregation in Buncombe County,” will highlight the students of the “Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality” (ASCORE), a group which was instrumental in the desegregation of Buncombe’s school system through the 1950s and 60s.
Following the opening of the gallery exhibition, a unity march is to be held at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, which will be followed by a reception to mark King’s 82nd birthday to be held in the theater of the University Center.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, the University Center will feature a cartoon film entitled “Our Friend Martin: An Adventure Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.” at 6 p.m. in the University Center.
The high point of the celebration will be a keynote address from the Rev. Jamie Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 19, in the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center at 7 p.m. Washington has spent 20 years as an educator and administrator for various higher education institutions, and is known for his messages on social justice and politics. He also founded the Washington Consulting Group as well as serving as a senior consultant for the Equity Consultant Group. His address on Wednesday evening will cover the nation’s progress in the areas of civil rights and race relations, and what additional steps are necessary to see King’s vision come to fruition. The address is titled “Beyond the Dream to the Vision: The Charge for the Next Generation.”
In addition to all these events, days of service will be held on January 17 and 22. Participants should register for these days through the Center for Service Leaning website http://www.servicelearning.wcu.edu.
For more information on any of Western Carolina University’s events, contact James Felton, the director of intercultural affairs for the school at (828) 227-2924.