Athens Offers Two Events To Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

From the Mayor’s Desk

1-16-2015 10-11-50 AMMarching, student speeches, music and more planned

Athens will honor the memory of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by offering the public a variety of ways to celebrate his legacy.

The events will be on Monday, Jan. 19, which is set aside as the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The annual Athens-Limestone Martin Luther King Jr. March and Program will start on The Square in Athens. Marchers will assemble at 8:30 a.m. and will begin marching at 9 a.m. from The Square to the Limestone County Event Center on Pryor Street.

At 9:30 a.m., the program will start and includes students reading their winning essays based on one of two themes: The Color of Unity and My Most Favorite Quote of Dr. King and What it Means to Me. The Pleasant Grove Choir will perform, and a portion of King’s letter from the Birmingham Jail will be read.

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There will be refreshments after the program. For more information about this event, contact Benard Simelton at 256-426-6406.

Another long-standing tradition is the annual Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Ceremony. It will be at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church on Westmoreland Street at 11 a.m. The guest speaker will be the Rev. Louis Malone, formerly of Athens, who is the pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Rockford, Ill.

Malone graduated from the former all-black Trinity High School in 1968. The school, which served black students from Athens City and Limestone County, closed amid integration in 1970. He served two years in the U.S. Army, including a one-year stint in Vietnam combat. He has been the pastor at St. Luck Missionary Baptist Church for 30 years. He is a volunteer chaplain for the Rockford Police Department, serves as president of the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois, and has worked with organizations such as the NAACP, Girls Scouts of America, Boy Scouts of America, American Legion and Fraternal Order of Masons.

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Athens City Council President and committee member Jimmy Gill said the event will conclude with the naming of the Dr. C. Eric Lincoln Humanitarian Award winner, which is kept secret until the award is presented.

The award is named in honor of the late C. Eric Lincoln, who was a graduate of Trinity High School. Lincoln was an author, theologian, ordained Methodist minister and a professor of religion at Duke University. His book “The Avenue, Clayton City” won the Lillian Smith Award for best Southern fiction in 1988.

The Round Island Creek Male Chorus will perform, and lunch will provided after the program.
By: Holly Hollman