MLK  Club set to lead 32nd Annual Unity Day Celebration

| January 5, 2017
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [PHOTO: Courtesy of Urban News Service]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [PHOTO: Courtesy of Urban News Service]

Celebration to honor legacy of Dr. King, President Obama, Prophet Cedric Walker

By Clifford Buttram Jr.

Special to Frost Illustrated

The Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Club is a non-profit organization and was founded in 1986 by the late Glyn R. Gleason. It was organized to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to promote education, literacy, ethnic and cultural diversity. The 32nd Annual Unity Day celebration is scheduled to be held at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne and the keynote speaker is the nationally known historian and orator Troy Patterson Thomas of Gary, Indiana, who will recite a 20 minute condensed and memorized version of Dr. King’s March 25, 1965 speech that concluded the “March from Selma” to the Alabama State Capitol.

The celebration is also scheduled to include a tribute to President Barack Obama with the “Sons of Barack” video presentation and a lengthy display of local talent and vendors. The club will also formally announce the Club’s second trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in July 2017. On behalf of our President Bennie Edwards and our Vice President Fran Grant, please join the MLK Club in celebrating our award winners and remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 16.

President Barack

President Barack

Unity Day Guest Speaker

Mr. Troy Patterson Thomas has delivered speeches of Dr. King’s since 1987 when as an 11 year old he presented a memorized oration of “I Have A Dream” and four other MLK speeches.  Since then he has made more than 1,000 presentations of many of Dr. King’s speeches at churches, schools and universities, conferences and private assemblies.  He has presented for Coretta Scott King, at the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda, on WGN and CNN TV and many other local and national media. Mr. Thomas memorizes easily and most of his presentations are memorized orations. His delivery has the mesmerizing timber and pitch of Dr. King’s voice. A second portion of the Unity Day Guest Speaker focus will include a presentation by Al Jennings entitled  “Sons of Barak” which is a 23 minute video featuring 13 young men, teen-age to 30 years of age, speaking of President Barak Obama’s 2008 DNC Convention speech. The young men are then interviewed about what his presidency has meant for their hopes and aspirations as young African American leaders of the future.

Breakfast with the Clergy

Prophet Cedric Walker

Prophet Cedric Walker

The celebration will begin with our Ninth Annual Breakfast with the Clergy to be held promptly from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Jan. 16, in the Convention Center.  Bishop Willie Bolden, pastor of The Well of Fort Wayne Church will deliver words of inspiration at the Breakfast and Prophet Cedric Walker will be named the 2017 Clergy of the Year. The Clergy of the Year is based on the ministries of the church, such as the church reaching out to the community, feeding the hungry, promoting programs for youth and, developing stronger ties within our community and we’re pleased to announce and present the 2017 award to Prophet Walker. Nomination forms for future candidates will be available at the breakfast or you can mail in a nomination to the MLK Club, P.O. Box 15694, Fort Wayne, IN 46885-5694.  Please include the name of the church and describe all active church ministries. The plated breakfast remains at a low cost of $20 per person or $160.00 for a table of 8.   You must provide an RSVP and you can do so by calling Fran Grant (260) 493-0980 or email her at

Clergy Breakfast Speaker Archbishop Willie Bolden

Archbishop Bolden has served in the Ministry for over 40 years empowering and enriching thousands of lives around the world through teaching, mentoring, preaching and many miraculous healings by the grace of almighty God.  In 1976, he founded Calvary Chapel Church Inc. of Fort Wayne with eight people.  He built a 20,000-square foot building and the ministry grew to more than 2,000 in attendance.   After the completion of the building in 1989, Archbishop Bolden emplaced a pastor, Bishop Melvin Bolden, to oversee the ministry and moved to Tampa Florida to start another work. He started Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, now called Rehoboth The Well of Tampa Florida Church, which grew to over one thousand members.  Because of the death of his brother, he and his wife, Pastor Rhonda, have returned to lead the Fort Wayne church again now called The Well of Fort Wayne. In 2004, they purchased a 50,000-square foot building for the worshipers. God began tugging on his heart about a new assignment and moved to Los Angeles CA, where he built Rehoboth Faith Cathedral. In 2014, his former wife of 39 years the late Glenda Bolden who helped him build the ministries, went home to be with the Lord.

Archbishop Willie and Pastor Rhonda Bolden

Bishop Willie and Pastor Rhonda Bolden

Archbishop Bolden has truly been blessed by God to divinely connect with his present wife, Pastor Rhonda A. Bolden, who has already been a tremendous help in the work of the Kingdom of God.  Bishop Bolden and his wife Pastor Rhonda, along with many bishops, pastors and ministers launched a New Fellowship called Kingdom Alliance Ministry Fellowship International (KAM) September 2015. Together they will help to bring the Church ‘Back to the Basics’, while ‘Expecting the Supernatural’.

Unity Day Activities

The 2017 MLK Unity Day celebration will include many new vendors and activities for the public to enjoy. Listed below are a few of the activities planned for the program:

The gospel portion will spotlight some of our local favorites:  Elder Demarkus Pennington; Pastor Anthony Pettus and the GPBC Mass Choir; Chris Ford and the Fort Wayne Community Choir; twins Nija & Deja; and Sylare Starks of Greater Mt. Ararat, and many others.

The Maverick Drill Team and Sheekristyle Dance Academy also are slated perform.

Three $1,000 scholarships will be awarded and three very deserving people will receive community service awards.  Recipients are Mayor Tom Henry, Iric Headley and Pastor Elisha Harris.

Parkview Hospital nurses will give free health screenings and Walgreens will offer free flu shots.

A new segment will feature natural hair which is an integral part of black history.

In early African civilization natural hair indicated the family background, tribe, and socioeconomic status. More and more we are returning to our “roots” and live models will display some of today’s natural hairstyles.

We will wrap up the day with a thank you to President Barack Obama.  The salute will include the showing of “A War for Your Soul” by filmmaker Reggie Bullock.  The film is a depiction of the black experience and has been viewed by hundreds and praised by mayors, city leaders, students and educational officials in almost every city around the country.

Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains relevant and revered: His Work, Mission, and Continuing Legacy

As we enter the final week before our city’s 2017 Annual MLK Unity Day celebration, it would be quite difficult to concisely frame Dr. King’s life, vision, mission, and legacy in one article. Instead, we will try to offer some brief words on just how Dr. King forever changed this country. And when we say changed, I mean his movement and his mission fundamentally and unequivocally changed the United States of America. If you’re old enough to remember or lived through pre-1965 America, the following words certainly cannot describe the times, the anguish, or the pain. But perhaps, they will provide some food for thought for all of us (young, middle age, or elderly) on just how much we have to be thankful for Dr. King’s determination.

Dr. King changed America’s moral, Constitutional, and Biblical compass in the span of 10 years. From 1955-1965, his tireless efforts are still not fully understood nor are they properly framed for us to completely understand or to contemplate their gravity. I would debate that there is probably no other 10 year time span in American history as important and impactful as Dr. King’s ten years of civil rights leadership. Perhaps 1790-1800 when the country was brand new and still being challenged by the British as a flawed case of juvenile rebellion; or perhaps, 1860-1870 when the country nearly destroyed itself in a Civil War and then again in Reconstruction where the memories of segregation and racism still haunt us today; maybe 1935-1945 when American essentially saved the world from tyranny and oppression and proved that freedom, human rights, and democracy were superior to all other forms of government; or finally, perhaps 1990-2000 when the Berlin Wall fell and we eventually ushered in the innovative age of technology with the Internet, cell phones, personal computers, and digital television. I’d debate that none of these ten year spans comes close to what Dr. King endured and fought for between 1955 and 1965.

In 2017 America, a citizen can achieve what they dream. Although that may sound like a slogan or cliché, sixty years ago, it was only a dream because Black citizens were in the infancy of finally being recognized as U.S. citizens. Fifty to sixty years is a short time period in the span of our country, but much has changed for us since the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1963 Birmingham demonstrations and church bombing, the 1963 March on Washington, the awarding of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. King, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Selma March, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. One man was in the center of all these events, each of which could not have occurred had the previous event not been successful. Our access to equal rights in employment, education, housing, credit, and voting can all be attributed to Dr. King’s vision and purpose. In a brief moment in March 1964, Dr. King and Malcolm X met for their only time during a U.S. Senate debate on the Civil Rights Bill. Many of you may have seen or even possess the iconic picture of them shaking hands, but tragically (and not so coincidentally) both would be gone from us within three years of that meeting. It makes you openly wonder about the further possibilities for our community had they both lived and met in the middle with their ideas for Black America, specifically, and America in general. It is almost inconceivable how much more difficult it would be for we as a people in 2017 or how different America would be without Dr. King’s legacy.

We would like to challenge everyone to fulfill their own promise to further Dr. King’s legacy. Each one of these challenges will take time, resources, and yes some money, but you will be rewarded with a treasure of memories to last your lifetime. First, read a couple of books focusing on Dr. King. I recommend Dr. King’s “Why We Can’t Wait” which includes his Letter from the Birmingham Jail and its’ surrounding events in 1963 Birmingham. I would also recommend Tavis Smiley’s recent “Death of a King” which chronicles the last year of Dr. King’s life when nearly everyone, including the government and many in his own organization, turned against him after his extraordinary efforts to change this country’s mentality on race, the Vietnam War, and his Poor People’s Campaign. Secondly, visit Dr. King’s memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial is within walking distance of the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt Memorials which is an apt location for an equally significant citizen who also profoundly altered America. Finally, take the time to visit and enjoy the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.  Our nation’s history is intricately linked to the African American experience and the museum is both an emotional and historical reminder of the costs of making that history.

In closing, Dr. King’s National holiday is much more than a day off from work. It is a national day of reverence to a man who defied an entrenched establishment and positively impacted a nation; the most powerful and influential nation on Earth. Take some time to research, read, and listen about Dr. King on January 16, 2017. Visit the 32nd Annual MLK, Jr. Club’s Unity Day celebration and witness our annual tribute to community activity and support. Come celebrate the memory of the man whose fight changed our lives. The MLK Club would like to thank Frost Illustrated for their continued support throughout the years and we hope that the Fort Wayne community will continue to purchase the newspaper to continue to build informed citizens and to prepare for the 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Day celebration in 2018

Philippians 2:4 states: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”.


The MLK Club Inc. Board Members

Clifford F. Buttram Jr.

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Category: Events, Local, Spiritual Matters, Unity Day Celebration

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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