On Monday, several events around central Arkansas are commemorating and celebrating the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
--At the UALR Jack Stephens Center, the state Martin Luther King Jr Commission is holding a "Mega King Fest" from 7am to 3pm. Doors Open at 6:30am. The day will start out with an interfaith prayer breakfast lasting until 8:30am. It's expected to be attended by Governor Asa Hutchinson, Senator Tom Cotton, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and others.
Other nationally and internationally-known speakers are expected at the King Fest, including Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) and Elder Jimmy Thompson, an African Methodist Episcopal Elder from Lakewood , Florida. Other entertainers on are the billing as well.
City leaders of Harrison, Arkansas are expected to be recognized for efforts to restore tolerance and correct a negative image of a city that has long carried the reputation as a hub for racially-motivated hate groups. Members of the Hoxie 21, who integrated the Hoxie, Arkansas School district in 1955 are expected to be recognized.
"Our goal as the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is to promote racial harmony, multi-cultural diversity and social equality for all Arkansans. We educate youth to empower them to be better ambassadors of peace," says the Commission's Executive Director DuShun Scarbrough.
More info on the 2016 Mega King Fest here.
--Several organizations around Central Arkansas are planning a “Day of Service.” The Clinton Foundation, City Year and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center are all planning volunteer opportunities.
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is planning its 6th annual MLK Challenge, where students will use the day to go out into to the community and help out. Quintia Fletcher, interim director of the MTCC, says the organization expects about 50 to 75 kids to participate.
"The students are given a mission and the mission is to go out to one of our sites that we have out in the community and serve. Every site is different. We're at some homeless shelters, we're at some nursing homes, we're at some community gardens. And we encourage [the students] to keep their spirit up all day long," says Fletcher.
The volunteers will meet at the Mosaic Templars Building on Broadway and 9th street and will depart to their volunteer sites. Sites include the Dunbar Community Garden, Millennium Adult Day Care, the Little Rock Compassion Center, and the Helping Hands food pantry and thrift store.
More info from the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center website.
--Following a morning parade, or "Marade," the Arkansas NAACP is hold a rally at the Arkansas State Capitol Monday from noon to 2pm. Organizers plan to use the event to heighten calls for the official separation of MLK day and Robert E. Lee Day in the state. This year’s holiday comes as Governor Asa Hutchinson recently called for the separation of the two days and members of the state legislature tried and failed to separate the days last year.
More info on the parade and rally here.
-Rock Region Metro, which provides public transportation in Central Arkansas, is offering free bus rides for the holiday.
-At 4pm at Bethel AME Church in North Little Rock, Cornell William Brooks, national President and CEO of the NAACP, is to speak. Brooks is an attorney and minister and has been president of the NAACP for the last two years. He is expected to address the history of civil rights movements in Arkansas and challenges facing modern movements.
The event is to be attended by state public elected officials, heads of civic groups and students from Little Rock's Geyer Springs Gifted and Talented Academy. The Central High School band is to perform. Little Rock School District Communications Director Pamela Smith is to be "Mistress of Ceremonies."
Beyond Pulaski County
-The Conway County NAACP will be holding their 4th annual MLK Day Parade at 10am in Morrilton. More info here.
-In downtown Hot Springs, MLK Parade starts at 10am. More info here.