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January 9, 2013

TCH to host annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

Community House will shine the spotlight on local civil rights leaders at annual breakfast event

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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TCH to host annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration
Civil rights advocate Dr. Silas Norman, of Wayne State University, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Jan. 21 at The Community House.

BIRMINGHAM —  For the 21st year, the Race Relations and Diversity Task Force, a sponsored group of The Community House in Birmingham, will host its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at 8 a.m. Jan. 21.

This year’s event, which will be centered on the theme “Lest We Forget,” will have all of the entertainment and inspiration that the annual celebration has become known for, including a performance by the Courville Concert Choir.

Dr. Silas Norman Jr. — assistant professor of internal medicine and associate dean for admissions, diversity and inclusion at the Wayne State University School of Medicine — will be this year’s keynote speaker.

Born and raised in Augusta, Ga., Norman has been involved in many notable civil rights initiatives over the years, including serving as chairman of the campus Civil Rights Organization at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and also with the Literacy Project Team in Selma, Ala., where he helped people challenge the system that prevented African-Americans from registering to vote.

He also was responsible for coordinating activities with several civil rights groups, such as the Dallas County Voter’s League and the Southern Leadership Conference, headed by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That experience gave him the chance to meet and talk with civil rights leader Malcolm X. Today he’s a life member of the NAACP and supporter of many other civic and religious associations.

“We are delighted to feature Dr. Silas Norman Jr. as our keynote speaker for our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration,” said Janelle McCammon, chair of the 2012 event, in a prepared statement. “Dr. Norman, who worked so tirelessly to advance the civil rights movement in our nation, offers a wealth of knowledge and insight. We look forward to being inspired by his message.”

Dwight Levens, president of the Task Force, said this event will serve to not only honor Martin Luther King Jr., but also to kick-start a year of productive discussions to improve relations between communities of all types.

“I’m hoping through Dr. Silas Norman’s presentation that we’ll have a much deeper conversation about race and inclusion for the coming year. We’ve had a lot of conversations around issues instead of delving into them,” said Levens. “We want to have good conversations going back and forth between people — city vs. suburbs, black vs. white, gay vs. straight, male vs. female — so we can bring some collective understanding to each other and hopefully change for the better.

Tickets for the 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration are $30 for general seating and $15 for students, and sponsorship tickets are also available. All tickets include a hot plated breakfast.

For reservations, call The Community House at (248) 644-5832 or visit www.tchserves.org. Advance registration is advised as seating is limited.

The Community House is located at 380 S. Bates St. in downtown Birmingham.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.