CLARION – “Service to Others” will be the message when Clarion University marks the birthday of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders at the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Community Celebration at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 in Gemmell Multi-Purpose Room.
Keynote speaker will be Ron Miller, author, Fox News commentator and former information technology professional with the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to Miller, an area high school student and a Clarion University student will address the audience, and student poets from the university will recite. Clarion University’s Lift Every Voice gospel choir will perform, as will the Buffalo Soldiers, a group of young men from Vision Quest who perform stepping drills. A full meal will be served, and there will be door prizes. The event is free and open to everyone.
“This program is an opportunity for local residents and students from small, rural communities to see, hear and learn about others who are a little different from them,” said Brenda Dede, chair of the organizing committee and one of the founders of the event. She added that attendance, usually between 150 and 200 people, is always very diverse.
“Dr. King was a person whose vision and work was for every American, not just the minority group,” Dede said. “It was for every American who faced any kind of adversity, dilemma or discrimination. It hits everybody at some point. Even in 2011, we still face those issues.”
The evening is intended to celebrate King’s work and to bring awareness of the progress that’s been made.
“As the years go by, even our minority kids lose sight of who King was and the issues he worked for and fought for,” Dede said.
In addition to Dede, the committee that organizes The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Community Celebration is comprised of community members, Clarion University students, faculty and staff, and the Clarion Chamber of Commerce. It has been held annually since 1997.