The son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be in Lawrence in January as a part of the local observances commemorating the birth of his father, the slain civil rights leader.
Martin Luther King III will be keynote speaker during a banquet Jan. 13 in the Kansas Union ballroom. The event comes two days before the national holiday in his father's honor and is a part of local Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commemoration activities.
"This, to us, will be a great event," said the Rev. Charles Kennybrew, a member of The Ecumenical Fellowship Inc., the group organizing the local celebration. "We're very excited."
Kennybrew said 1990 marks the fifth anniversary of the local activities, and organizers wanted to attract a renowned speaker.
"We thought this would be a milestone for us, and we wanted to try to get someone very, very outstanding and well known for our celebration," he said. "We're hoping it will be so well attended and supported that next year (1991) we can bring in another outstanding speaker."
KENNYBREW said he and his committee began work in July trying to arrange for King's visit to Lawrence.
King will be paid a $4,500 honorarium, plus expenses, for speaking in Lawrence. The Ecumenical Fellowship will ask the Lawrence City Commission for $1,500 to assist in bringing King to Lawrence.
"The benefits coming to the city will be greater . . . because persons are anticipated from the neighboring areas including Kansas City and Topeka, bringing business to our community," Kennybrew said in a letter to the city requesting the funds.
Acting City Manager Mike Wildgen said the city has assisted the local King celebrations in the past by providing money for transportation for speakers.
MARTIN Luther King III is the second oldest of the four children of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. He is a life member and a member of the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a board member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and is affiliated with several political and civic organizations.
In 1986 he was elected to the seven-member Fulton County (Ga.) Commission, where he has worked to promote equal employment opportunities, supported minority business enterprises and advocated environmentally sound policies. In the late 1970s, he represented President Jimmy Carter in official delegations to foreign countries to promote peace.
A national holiday on the third Monday in January each year has commemorated his father's birthday since 1984. Kennybrew said planning continues for other events surrounding the local commemoration activities, including a musical scheduled for Jan. 14 and a midday service on Jan. 15, which would have been King's 61st birthday.