This year's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will feature a banquet, musical and commemorative service.
It's a job for the chairman, and on Monday, it was Dean Nieder's first order of business as the new leader of the Douglas County commission.
After Tom Taul made a motion to appoint Nieder as his successor as chairman, Nieder quickly broke in his proclamation voice, declaring Jan. 18 to 25 as "Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance Week."
The county, along with the city of Lawrence, is recognizing the week as part of the 14th annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration organized by the Ecumenical Fellowship.
The Revs. William Dulin, Leo Barbee, Paul Winn and Garland Hall thanked commissioners for their continued support of the events. The Ecumenical Fellowship has spearheaded the celebration since 1986.
The theme of this year's observances is "Reflecting on the Past, Looking Forward with Hope."
Dulin said Ecumenical Fellowship, which works with the Lawrence Evangelical Assn. to organize the celebration, started planning in February or March of last year. Ecumenical Fellowship is an umbrella group for the eight predominantly black churches in Lawrence.
The goal of the celebration is twofold, said Dulin, president of the group.
"No. 1, it's remembering and honoring the legacy of Dr. King and everyone who has struggled for civil rights over the years. It's to remember that legacy. The next thing, the most important, is to bring in speakers who talk about today in relation to the past."
Education about the civil rights movement is imperative because "if you forget the past, you'll repeat it," Dulin said.
The celebration is sponsored by Kansas University, Haskell Indian Nations University, the city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence school district. City commissioners will read a proclamation for the week tonight.
The celebration will begin with a banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Kansas Union ballroom at KU. The speaker will be Miles Jones, a professor at Virginia Union University School of Theology in Richmond, Va. Tickets for the dinner and program are $20 for the general public and $10 for KU, Haskell students and students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Tickets for the program only are $10 and free to all students. They are available at the Christian Book and Gift Store, the minority affairs office at KU, the administration office at Haskell, Student Union Activities at KU or by calling (785) 843-8913 or (785) 749-0835.
Sunday's event is a free musical at 6:30 p.m. at Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave. Guest director will be the Rev. Paul Sims.
A commemorative service Monday will feature the Rev Raleigh Washington, pastor of the Rock of Our Salvation Evangelical Free Church in Chicago. It will begin at 11:15 a.m. in the auditorium at the Lied Center.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.