Martin Luther King Jr. to be honored with events leading up to big day

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published January 11, 2012

 Marchers walk from Hope United Methodist Church to the Southfield Municipal Complex during the 2010 Peace Walk honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Marchers walk from Hope United Methodist Church to the Southfield Municipal Complex during the 2010 Peace Walk honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

File photo by David Schreiber


SOUTHFIELD — Forty-four years after his murder and 26 years after the country made his birthday a national holiday, there is still so much of Dr. Martin Luther King’s work to be done.

The city of Southfield and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force are presenting the massively attended annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Peace Walk Celebration Monday, Jan. 16, along with other special events leading up to the big day.

The march itself, a nod to King’s historic March on Washington in 1963, will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Hope United Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Highway. Tens of thousands of walkers will head to the Southfield Pavilion, at 26000 Evergreen, where the grand ceremony will take place beginning at 11 a.m.

The program will feature remarks from local dignitaries; musical performances by Davis Glouff, the Zamir Chorale of Metropolitan Detroit, Korean drummers and New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; and dance performances by the Latin Dance Troupe, the Sun-mi Choi Korean Dancers and the Hindu Temple Rhythms.

This year’s keynote speaker is attorney W. Anthony Jenkins, who will deliver the presentation “Civil Rights: Today’s Generation.”

The program will also include the presentation of the 2012 MLK Community Service Award, the administration of the Peace Pledge by MLK Task Force founding member Barbara Talley, and the ringing of the liberty bell.

Honoring the late civil rights activist is vital to society, said Dorothy Dean, vice president and program chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force.

“Today, and even more so than the last couple of years, I think it’s very important that the movement continues on,” Dean said. “We have a lot of economic strife in the state of Michigan as well as across the country. It’s very important that we keep the movement and the message out there so that there is a continued recognition that we need diversity. We’re looking at this generation to continue some of the work. This generation needs to look back at what’s been done so we can look at the future and see what we need to do.”

Dean joined the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force four years ago because she wanted to help carry that message forth.

Her favorite part of the festivities in Southfield is what kicks off the entire celebration — the Youth Service Awards and Essay Contest Program, which were held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the Southfield Public Library. Winners of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest were announced, and Dean said she’s moved while reading the essays the children write each year.

“Dr. King stood for nonviolence, and that is the ultimate message,” she said. “To hear the young kids talk about nonviolence and how important it is I think it’s so critical, especially in a world where we see so much violence every day.”

Also during that program, Teen Minister Cherish Thomas of the Detroit World Outreach Christian Center will deliver a special message to local youth.

“She is a very dynamic speaker,” Dean said of the inspiring 23-year-old.

The festivities continue at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, with a panel discussion of “African American Political, Social and Economic Empowerment.” The program was organized by Southfield resident James Jackson.

“I wanted to have a discussion on how we move Dr. King’s dream forward; what do we do from this point going forward to further the causes that Dr. King was passionate about and fought for,” Jackson said. “We are spending a lot of time reflecting upon the great work he did during the civil rights movement, but I wanted to make sure we had a vocal conversation about now what do we do in a post-civil rights environment.”

Panelists include Rudy Hobbs, Marcia Williams, Dr. Jay Marks, Chris Terry, Dr. Jonice Butler, Toni Limmitt, the Rev. Kevin Parker and Charesa Johnson.

“Most of the panelists are post-civil rights — the generation after (King),” Jackson said. “We are the generation that is now expected to take history and move forward with it.”

At noon on Saturday, Jan. 14, the public is invited to the mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, located at 25800 W. 10 Mile Road, to honor Viola Liuzzo, a civil rights activist from Detroit who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while driving participants back from a voting rights march in Montgomery, Ala., in 1965. Liuzzo’s daughter, Sally Liuzzo Prado, will deliver a special address at the memorial.

Southfield was the first city in the state of Michigan to hold a Dr. King peace walk or march, on Jan. 20, 1986, coinciding with the first national observance of his birthday.

For more information, call the MLK Task Force hotline at (248) 827-9119 or visit the website