Community members march in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Walk last year. Marchers departed from Hope United Methodist Church, on Northwestern Highway, and traveled to the Southfield Pavilion, on Evergreen Road, for a celebration of the historic leader. This year’s celebration is slated for Jan. 15.

Community members march in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Walk last year. Marchers departed from Hope United Methodist Church, on Northwestern Highway, and traveled to the Southfield Pavilion, on Evergreen Road, for a celebration of the historic leader. This year’s celebration is slated for Jan. 15.

File photo by Donna Dalziel


Annual MLK celebration returns Jan. 15

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published January 10, 2018

SOUTHFIELD — It’s been a staple in the community for 33 years, but that doesn’t mean that Southfield’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration is the same year after year. 

According to Southfield MLK Task Force President Patricia Haynie, event organizers work each year to provide new content for locals to enjoy. 

The MLK Task Force, made up of over 200 members, is a group dedicated to not only keeping Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of peace, freedom and equality alive, but also to organizing a celebration in his honor each January at the Southfield Pavilion. 

On Jan. 15, the day will begin with a Peace Walk departing at 9:30 a.m. from Hope United Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Highway. Participants will walk to the Southfield Pavilion, 26000 Evergreen Road, for an 11 a.m. celebration. 

This year’s theme is “Passing the Torch to the Next Generation,” and will include remarks from Mayor Kenson Siver, MLK Task Force founder Barbara Talley and Haynie. 

Haynie said previously that the organization was founded in 1986 during plans for a Peace Walk in Southfield — which became the first city in Michigan to hold a Peace Walk or march for King in observance of his birthday, a national holiday. Now the walk continues to grow in size and scope each year, according to Southfield Community Relations Director Michael Manion. 

In lieu of a keynote address, Haynie said a video will be presented on an Aug. 14 Freedom Ride orchestrated by the MLK Task Force. 

Thanks to sponsorships from local elected officials, community members, community organizations and businesses, selected high school students took a weeklong trip to historical civil rights sites in Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Memphis, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky.

Since the theme of this year’s event centers on today’s youth, Haynie said all the performances will be given by young people from the area. 

“Now more than ever, we have got to pass the torch. There is so much controversy going on, and we’ve got to help our young people understand how important nonviolence and peace is,” she said. “Even during troubled times in our country, who better to help young people than young people themselves? We want to show them they can step up and take action.”

Haynie said the event will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination. King was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. 

“We will have a moment of silence in remembrance of him and his assassination,” Haynie said. 

The event will also feature the presentation of colors by the Buffalo Soldiers, Tuskegee Airmen, and Southfield Police and Fire Departments; “The Star Spangled Banner” will be performed by the Birney Middle School Jazz Band. An invocation will be offered by Farber Hebrew Day School students, along with other performances and special presentations. 

The program will conclude with the presentation of the 2018 MLK Community Service Award, the MLK Peace Pledge and the ringing of the Liberty Bell.

Manion said the city of Southfield has been honored to host the program over the decades. 

"Southfield was the first city in the state of Michigan to hold a Dr. King Peace Walk or march in commemoration of the first national observance of Dr. King's birthday,” Manion stated in an email. “The MLK Task Force has continued to do a phenomenal job in presenting one of the region's finest Dr. King observances each year, and we are proud to be a partner in this celebration."

For more information, visit mlktaskforcemi.org.