The 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday bash will be the best yet, organizers say.
Beginning Jan. 14, Lawrence will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s 66th birthday with oratory, food and gospel music.
"I have seen a great change in our community because of these celebrations," said Rev. Charles Kennybrew, pastor of the Ninth Street Baptist Church. "After the celebrations are over, the climate in the community is one of togetherness. This thing is going to bring all of us together as one great family -- a community."
Building a healthy community is the theme of the three-day celebration. Because this year's observance will be the 10th, Kennybrew said, the Ecumenical Fellowship Inc. planned to make it the best yet.
The featured speaker at the opening banquet is Julian Bond.
Bond, a civil rights pioneer and former state senator from Georgia, will speak after dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 in the Kansas Union Ballroom at Kansas University.
Along with hundreds of other southern students, Bond helped begin the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee on Easter Day in 1960. He became communications director and edited the SNCC newsletter, The Student Voice.
He participated in sit-ins, protesting the segregation of Atlanta's movie theaters, lunch counters and parks. Police once arrested Bond for a sit-in at the then-segregated cafeteria in Atlanta City Hall.
Kennybrew said the SNCC and King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference often disagreed during the civil rights movement. But "in the final analysis, they came together and worked out their differences," he said.
James Boyer, a professor at Kansas State University in the department of curriculum and American ethnic studies, will speak at the birthday bash at 1 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Lied Center.
Boyer, who has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, has written several recent articles about equity and cultural diversity in the classroom and workplace.