In years past, the Greater Wichita Ministerial League has welcomed the U.S. Senate chaplain, Barry Black, as a speaker to its Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
But this year, Black has a previous engagement: swearing in Barack Obama during the presidential inauguration, which will fall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Jan. 21.
“In essence, President Obama will be our speaker,” said pastor Herman Hicks of the Wichita Ministerial League.
His organization and the Kansas African American Museum will host major events to commemorate the birthday of the late civil rights leader later this month.
The Ministerial League will kick off its celebration at 10 a.m. on Jan. 21 with the theme “Another Step in Fulfilling the Dream.” Doors open at 9 a.m. at Wichita State University’s Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 5015 E. 29th St. North. President Obama’s inauguration speech will be broadcast live.
“It shows how far we’ve come from the days of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Hicks said of Obama’s inauguration. “How appropriate is it that a president is being sworn in not by the color of his skin, but by his character?”
Youth and adult choirs will perform and the Ministerial League will present three awards. City Council member Lavonta Williams and the Urban League of Kansas will be presented with awards. The third is the Presidential Award, which is a surprise for the recipient.
Mayor Carl Brewer will speak at the event, which usually hosts up to 800 people of all ages and races. The event is free and open to the public.
The Kansas African American Museum will host its 34th annual three-day Martin Luther King Jr. celebration with the theme “Message in the Music,” which will pair King’s message with civil rights music from the time.
“We will take a look at how Martin Luther King, as well as the music, was pivotal in the movement,” said Angela Scott, the museum’s education director.
The event will kick off with a parade on Jan. 19. The museum will team up with the Christian Faith Centre and other local organizations, clubs, schools and families for the march.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Christian Faith Centre, 1130 S. Broadway, and end at Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square, on Douglas between Market and Broadway. Admission is free, including complimentary refreshments.
On Sunday, the museum will host a community gathering to highlight organizations and individuals who have continued King’s legacy. The event is at Century II from 7 to 9 p.m.
The public can nominate and vote for those who have continued King’s message of service, inspiration and leadership for the Definition of Greatness Award. Visit www.tkaamuseum.org to make nominations before Friday. The award will be presented at the Century II event.
Admission is $3 for a button to see the event’s dance and choir performances, including the Wiley College Concert Choir. The school, a historically black, liberal arts college, is in Marshall, Texas.
“With the celebration … on Jan. 20, we’ll see how King’s legacy has been lived today… these are the people that are living that legacy,” Scott said.
While many people will take Jan. 21 off work for the holiday, the museum will celebrate MLK Day as a “day on.” The museum is asking people to spend their day off doing service projects for the community and to post pictures on the museum’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TKAAM.