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Farmington Hills

Library events will celebrate King’s legacy

January 8, 2013

FARMINGTON HILLS — Tanji Grant was just 8 years old in 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a motel balcony in Memphis.

The young girl didn’t understand why somebody would take the life of the civil rights leader.

“I was hurt that someone killed him. How could someone do that?” she wondered, remembering that in the days after his death, “The whole world shut down.”

Grant, a Multicultural/Multiracial Community Council of Farmington/Farmington Hills Steering Committee member, will be among those who will honor King during “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 50 Years Later: The Dream Lives On” Jan. 21 at the Main Branch of the Farmington Community Library.

Community members are invited to the event, which will pay tribute to King’s legacy through music, dance, poetry and storytelling. All events are free and open to the public.

The annual celebration will begin at 9 a.m. at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 28000 New Market Road. Thirty minutes later, the group will walk about a third of a mile to the library, located at 32737 W. 12 Mile Road. Grant said Farmington Hills police officers will escort the crowd.

The short walk holds significance.

“That’s what Martin Luther King did,” said Grant, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee co-chair. “He always marched to get his point across. It’s a peace walk.”

Last year, for the first time, the local Aco Hardware and the library donated supplies so participants could make peace signs. That tradition continues this year, as attendees can make peace signs at the church and carry them during the walk or even hang them somewhere prominent.

Local dignitaries will meet everyone at the library and say a few words. The library events kick off with a concert by the Dunckel Middle School choir at 10:15 a.m. Thirty minutes later, the audience will hear King’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” which performer Rudy Barker will re-enact.

“He has been performing speeches for the late Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Elyse Streit, branch head of the library. “It is the 50th anniversary of the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, so we invited him to come out and do that.”

Scheduled at 11:30 a.m. is poet Ber-Henda Williams, founder of the Southfield Public Library’s monthly poetry series, Poetry, Pages and Scribes. Williams will read some poetry to the audience, and poets will be encouraged to share their poems during a poetry slam. Pre-registration is not necessary.

The Martin Luther King Jr. program is slated to continue at 1 p.m. with music and stories presented by The Storytellers, Audrey and Bob Allison.

“It’s a performance for smaller kids,” said Streit, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee co-chair. “They bring instruments from all different countries. Kids can play the instruments.”

The events will conclude with a performance by the Harrison High School Dance Company at 2 p.m.

“The dance company is excellent,” Grant said. “They come back every year.”

“They’ve performed for us for a number of years,” Streit said. “The kids are out of school. They are doing this on their own time.”

Much planning went into scheduling the various entertainers.

“We know that schools are out, and government offices are closed,” Streit said. “We tried to do something where families come together. A lot of kids come with their parents.”

Several craft areas will be set up for the event. Those who attend also can make Valentine’s Day cards for seniors. Donations of canned goods are welcome and will benefit a local organization yet to be decided.

If he were still alive today, Grant can see King carrying on with his “dream.”

“He would be continuing with his speeches. He would be talking to the world for peace,” she said. “I think he would have spoken on behalf of (the) Sandy Hook (tragedy). He would have spoken on crime and the things that are going on.”

For further information on “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 50 Years Later: The Dream Lives On,” call the Main Branch of the Farmington Public Library at (248) 553-0300.

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