The City of Steubenville and surrounding communities once again are gearing up to commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
The goal behind this group of Ohio Valley residents, who have for years planned and organized events honoring the great man, is to create community camaraderie and celebrate the spirit of MLK through an extended weekend celebration honoring the civil rights movement leader.
The celebration offers pupils, parents, business leaders, city leaders, senior citizens and others a chance to come together to remember King for his visions of equality, racial justice and a nonviolent approach to social change.
A children's program kicks off the local events, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Steubenville. A birthday party in honor of King will combine fun and educational activities, according to organizers.
And a truly unique highlight of the annual community celebration, the MLK Memorial Mass Choir concert, is set to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at Quinn AME Church on North Street. Titled a Mountaintop Experience this year, the talented choir is under the direction of Delores Wiggins, minister of music, and will offer Negro spirituals and hymns, contemporary gospel music and soul music. There also will be feature solos by Charlene Dawkins of the Greater Zion Temple Church, Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison and a duet where Davison will join Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham. Additional performances will be offered by the Martin Luther King Children's Choir, Youth Instrumental Ensemble, Greater Zion Temple Church Choir and Quinn Memorial AME Senior Choir.
There's also the 35th-annual Community Ecumenical Memorial Service planned at 6 p.m. Sunday at Quinn AME Church. The guest speaker at the service will be the Rev. Walter Arrington of the People's Baptist Church in Canton.
The celebration will culminate Monday with a commemorative march through downtown Steubenville. Following breakfast and a program at the MLK Center, area residents are encouraged to take part in the march that will begin at 10:15 a.m. at the center and end at Steubenville High School. A community celebration will follow inside the school and will feature music, essay readings and special presentations as well as lunch.
We again salute the many local MLK Jr. Association members who give their time and efforts each year to perfect a program honoring King. Their dedication to the project is much appreciated and is clearly visible in each of the quality events presented.
Each year since 1983, the third Monday in January is marked as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a chance to recall his speech, "I Have a Dream," delivered almost 50 years ago on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and to recognize his many contributions to the civil rights movement.
We acknowledge the determination of our local volunteers, and we are fortunate to have the chance to take part in events that delve into the life of one of history's greatest men.