For the last 18 years, the birthday of. Martin Luther King Jr. has been honored as a national holiday. The tradition continues Monday in Bowling Green with events to commemorate King’s life.
The celebration starts at Girls, Inc. with a memorial breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Rev. Joe Sullivan of the Seventh Street Baptist Church will be speaking. Tickets are $6.
A unity march will begin at 10 a.m. at the Bowling Green Justice Center and end at Van Meter Hall.
C.J. Woods, director of the Office of Diversity Programs, said the march is important to the students at Western and to the community.
He said the symbolic march gives everyone an opportunity to participate.
“Events like this help educate the community about our history,” Woods said. “Students read in history class, but they never get to witness sit-ins or non-violent re-enactments like this.”
After the march, the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Convocation will be held in Van Meter Auditorium at 11 am. Julia Hare will be speaking on economic development and empowerment.
Hare is a motivational speaker and author of “How to Find and Keep a BMV,” a book about how black males and females can have successful relationships with each other. Her message will be directed toward young people, primarily college students.
“I notice a lot of young people have apathy,” she said. “They do not understand that the struggle continues.”
Hare said progress has been made, but King’s dream is not fulfilled.
“They need to realize they have a role to play,” she said. “Stop waiting for a messiah.”
Marcus Evans, a junior from Newton, Miss., said he plans to be involved with the events on Monday. Continuing King’s dream is more than just celebrating the holiday, he said.
“His cause was to change human rights,” he said, “Such a cause required not just a change in laws, but a change in people’s hearts.”
Evans said there is still a cause today that people must take part in all year around.
“I think it [MLK Day] will be beneficial,” he said, “But if there is not change in people’s hearts I see no point in an event.”
Woods said the events on Monday will be a catalyst for a change in the community and strengthen diversity.
“It will help us to see how our community can better itself,” he said.
After the convocation, there will be a reception at the Garrett Center. Amazing Tones of Joy, Western’s gospel choir, will also perform.
Nashville junior Adrian Simmons will be performing with the Amazing Tones of Joy and participating in the march.
“The Bible says give honor where honor is due,” Simmons said. “He changed society and the way things were.”
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