By Steven D. Manning
Special to Frost Illustrated
FORT WAYNE—Excitement is mounting, as the MLK Club prepares for the 29th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Day Celebration, scheduled for 10 p.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 20, at the beautiful Grand Wayne Convention Center in downtown Fort Wayne. It’s the largest Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in the state of Indiana.
MLK Club President Bennie Edwards, said the event is called Dr. King Unity Day Celebration for a reason.
“The goal is to bring together persons of all ages, all races, and persons interested in living together in harmony and peace in Fort Wayne and the Allen County community,” explained Edwards.
Program Director Fran Grant said, “we are all aware that Dr. King, a black Baptist minister, loved Gospel music and both traditional and contemporary songs will fill the air during the morning session of the event.”
Soloists Angela Presley and Mickie Kizer, have been added to the lineup. And the much-requested, Greater Progressive Baptist Church (GPBC) Praise Dancers, are scheduled to perform to the beautiful tune “Break Every Chain.”
Throughout the day there will be a variety of other performances such as, speeches, musical selections and dramatic presentations, all in honor of slain civil rights leader and Nobel Peace prize recipient, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Grant said, “The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Remembering the Titans.’ Webster describes a Titan as one who stands for greatness of achievement. Dr. King and our very own civil rights activist and board member, the late George Smith, certainly fit that description.”
Grant said, “we stand on the shoulders of great men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and we must always remember to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and other ‘Titans for justice.’”
A segment of the Unity Day Celebration has been set aside to honor Smith. His beloved United Male Chorus, which he founded, is scheduled to sing.
An anonymous donor has also given the MLK Club a donation for two scholarships in honor of George and his wife Louise, who is equally active in the civil rights movement. Two additional scholarships in memory of late MLK Club founder, Glen Gleason, will be presented during the Youth Expo portion of the event.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Carl B. Mack, who is also a champion of the civil rights movement, is expected to talk about his involvement in the fight for justice. Dr. Mack has appeared on CNN’s Lou Dobbs’ program. He has also been a guest on ABC’s Good Morning America. And he has been recognized in Ebony Magazine as one of the top 150 Black leaders in America.
Edwards said, “as president of the MLK Club for the past six years and a board member for 18 years prior to that, my goal, along with the board and volunteers, is to keep the memory, the goals and the mission of Dr. King alive and well in Fort Wayne and Allen County. This celebration fulfills that goal.”
More than 1,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event.
Grant said the beauty of Dr. King’s movement is that of no discrimination. She said the MLK Club encourages and welcomes the participation and input of our brothers and sisters of all races and colors.
“We look forward to the performance of “MIMETime,” said Grant, for example. “This group will perform at the celebration for the first time during the afternoon Youth Expo.”
MIMETime composed of about 20 senior high youth and adult directors from the Church of the Good Shepherd in Leo, Ind.
Grant said, there is something for everyone at this event. Numerous vendors will be located in the lobby of the Grand Wayne Center. They will be selling their wares and distributing important literature regarding health, education, and other community information. Parkview nurses will also offer free health screening, and the day will end with a $100 cash drawing.
Grant invites everyone to “start the day of Jan. 20 with a full stomach.” Breakfast with the Clergy is scheduled to be served promptly at 8 a.m., just across the street at the Downtown Courtyard by Marriott. The event is scheduled to feature guest speaker, Pastor Ken Christmon of Turner Chapel AME Church. The cost is $20. It includes a full sit down breakfast, good fellowship, a souvenir book, and free admission to the Unity Day Celebration.
Call Fran Grant at (260) 493-0980 to RSVP for the breakfast by Jan. 17, 2014.
Steven D. Manning is president and CEO of Manning Video Productions LLC. He can be reached at (260) 247-2517.