New committee organizes Martin Luther King Day events in Triangle

sgilman@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2014 


More than 1,000 people march down Fayetteville Street in 2012 during the 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade in downtown Raleigh.


EDITORS' NOTE: Scroll to the bottom of this article to see a list of holiday events throughout the Triangle.

RALEIGH -- For the first time, Bruce Lightner has not led the planning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in Raleigh.

Lightner, 66, announced last year that he would retire from the Raleigh Martin Luther King Celebration Committee, the organization he founded in 1982. A new group, the Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, has tackled this year’s Martin Luther King Day events in Raleigh and will be stepping out of the traditional January focus to promote King’s message throughout the year.

Organizing this weekend’s celebrations was possible for the new committee in part because of input from Lightner, said Ken Eudy, CEO of Capstrat communications firm and treasurer of the Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

“The events are very organized, but a lot of it was in his head,” Eudy said. “That was the scary thing to me.”

For years, Eudy said, Lightner had been talking about grooming new leaders for the event. But talk of retirement didn’t prepare Eudy for the final word from his longtime friend.

“It still hits you cold when he says, ‘I’m done,’ ” Eudy said.

But Lightner, the son of Raleigh’s only black mayor, Clarence Lightner, began putting down his thoughts on paper and has been available for coaching and counseling.

“But for that I’m certain that this event would not come off on Monday,” Eudy said.

Lightner’s committee is still active, but will step back from the celebrations. It will continue to organize two annual bus tours – one to Washington, D.C., and one that travels through Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., and finally Memphis, Tenn., where King was killed. To find out more, go to

Dumas Harshaw, chairman of the new nine-member committee, said it hopes to carry on Lightner’s work, but also expand the events to year-round.

“We want to unfold the meaning of Dr. King’s message, not only in January, but all year long,” Harshaw said. “We believe it’s relevant for the nation in the 21s century as well as the 20th century.”

Among the events they want to honor are King’s assassination on April 4, the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written on April 16 and the “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28.

Harshaw said the committee wants to promote King’s belief in love and nonviolence.

“There were other ways to solve America’s problems, but his message was to follow the path of love and forgiveness and empowerment and truth,” Harshaw said.

A pastor himself, Harshaw relates to King’s preaching background. King’s message, he said, “comes from the heart of the church experience.”

“Jesus is the model,” he said.

By engaging people in the message of King, Harshaw said the committee would try to bridge the gap between subcultures, “to come out of those places, those comfort zones, to create this shared, common reality.” It may also, he said, transform youth and steer them away from gangs, drugs and suicidal tendencies.

“We really can change,” he said. “We really can become civil as a society again. We can provide safety for our children, we can reach them so they don’t get caught up in the negatives along the way.”

For more information about the Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. committee, go to

Martin Luther King Jr. Day events



• A Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Peace Summit will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at Baptist Grove Church on Leesville Rd. The two-hour presentation on Dr. King’s life and message is free and open to the public. Hosted by by The Ivy Community Service Foundation of Cary, Inc. and the Sigma Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the event will include a presentation of 40 Days of Peace, an intitiative to unite communities that runs for six weeks after Martin Luther King Day. It will also include a donation to Durham VA Food Pantry and Hospice Center. Organizers request that guests bring complete meals with a long shelf life, toothbrushes, toothbrushes and lotion. For more information, go to

• Activate Good’s 4th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday Supper will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Long View Center’s 1880 Hall on Person Street. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will provide the food, and guests will be able to meet community members from MusicianCorps and nonprofits including Urban Ministries of Wake county, Triangle Area Red Cross and Dress for Success. Tickets are $10 each, but some are available for free for those in need of financial assistance. For tickets, go to


• The Day of Service hosted by the United Way of the Greater Triangle in Wake County will take place at St. Mary’s School on Hillsborough St. Volunteers will create soup mixes and pantry items, flash cards, scarves and teddy bears. They will also be working in the community gardens. Items they make will go to Wake County agencies including the Smithfield Rescue Mission and Urban Ministries of Wake County. For more information, go to

• The 34th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Memorial March will take place from 10 a.m. to noon in downtown Raleigh. The march will leave from the State Capitol on the Edenton Street side at 11 a.m. and go around the Capitol and down Fayetteville Streeet to the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. Following the march, the Martin Luther King Noon Ecumenical Observance will take place at the performing arts center. The United Voices of Mount Peace Baptist Church and the Raleigh-based Martin Luther King, Jr. All Children’s Choir will sing, and Dr. J. Vincent Terry, pastor of Mount Peace Baptist Church, will speak. For more information, go to

• The 34th Annual Martin Luther King Evening Musical Celebration will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The Raleigh-based Martin Luther King, Jr. All Children’s Choir will sing, as well as gospel singer Earnest Pugh and Rugh La’Ontra. The program will include performances from other choirs and singers from Raleigh. For more information, go to



• The MLK, Jr. Dreamfest: Dream of Community event will take place at 10 a.m. at the Triangle Famly Church Center on Watts St. Carolyn Sampson, coordinator of the N.C. Women’s Federation for World Peace for North Carolina, will give a speech titled “What Can Unificationist Learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?”

• From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Westgate Mall Center Court, Charmaine McKissick-Melton will be telling stories of her growing up experience in Durham’s elementary schools during the civil rights struggle. Children will not only enjoy story time, but also songs, birthday cake and crafts. The free event will also include a performance by MusicianCorps, dancing by Latino troupe Takiri, a photo exhibit and other activities. Organizers ask attendees to bring nonperishable food for the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Backpack Buddies program or a pack of new children’s underwear for Urban Ministries of Durham.

• During the 11 a.m. worship service at Duke University’s Chapel, Vashti Murphy McKenzie will deliver a sermon about the life of Dr. King. McKenzie was the first female elected bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. For more information, call 919-681-9488. Benjamin Jealous, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will speak at 3 p.m. at Duke University’s Chapel. The program will include performances by the 100 Men in Black choir and the Collage Dance Company. For live streaming of the afternoon program, go to For more information, contact Free parking at the Bryan Center Parking Garage.


• The Day of Service hosted by the United Way of the Greater Triangle in Durham will be at N.C. Central University’s campus from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will create soup mixes and pantry items, scarves, teddy bears and educational flash cards. The materials they make will go to residents of McDougald Terrace on Lawson St. Volunteers will also be able to participate in the Economic and Eduational Empowerment Family Day to present workshops on interviewing skills, reading and math abilities. For more information, go to

• The MLK Million Meals Project will take place from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Phail Wynn Jr. Student Services Center at Durham Technical Community College on E. Lawson St. The project, which organizers expect will result in 100,000 packaged meals, will benefit the nonprofit Stop Hunger Now. Students from Duke, N.C. Central University, Durham Tech and members oft he Durham Rotary Club will coordinate the project. Signups are online for various packaging shifts. To register, go to Contact Neil Hoefs at 919-668-1033 or email

• The Martin Luther King Unity March and Rally will leave from N.C. Mutial Insurance Company building on West Chapel Hill St. at 10:30 a.m. and end at First Presbyterian Church on E. Main St. For questions, call DeWarren K. Langley at 919-423-8089.

• A child-friendly birthday celebration for Martin Luther King, Jr. will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the Northgate Mall Center Court. Children will be able to enjoy cake, view a photo gallery, participate in crafts and hear from Charmaine McKissick-Melton, a mass communications professor at N.C. Central University who was among the first to desegregate Durham County Schools. For information, contact Jessica Burroughs at 919-260-5375 or email

• A religious service for Martin Luther King, Jr. will take place at A.M.E. Zion Church on Roxboro St. at 6 p.m. Sherri Arnold-Graham, treasurer of the Women’s Baptist Home & Foreign Missionary Convention of North Carolina, will be speaking. For information, contact DeWarren Langley at 919-423-8089 or email



• The Cary Arts Center will host the Arts Tribute to Martin Luther King from 3 to 7 p.m., featuring live song and dance. The free event includes refreshments, a chance for families to dance to music by a DJ, a presentation by the Hillside Hide School Traveling Drama Troupe and a spoken word performance by Lonieta Thompson Cornwall and some of her Shaw University students. For more information, contact Cary Arts Center at 919-469-4069.


• The Center for Volunteer Caregiving on Maynard Road will host an orientation for volunteers to learn how to give care to seniors and adults with disabilities at 9 a.m. The opportunity to become a year-round volunteer includes providing weekly or monthly transportation, housekeeping and visiting. The orientation session that honors Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision will last until 11 a.m. and can be completed online. For more information, contact Susan Meador at 919-460-0567 or go to

• The Dreamfest Day of Service will take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Middle Creek Community Center. Volunteers must be prepared to get dirty, and will be doing various tasks to beautify the grounds around Middle Creek Community Center. To register, call Sarah Justice at 919-469-4301 or email

• Transportation to the 33rd Annual MLK Commemorative March in downtown Raleigh will depart from Cary Town Hall, 316 N. Academy Street, at 10 a.m. Space is limited, so to reserve your space, call 919-460-4963.



• The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill will partner with the MLK, Jr. Corporation to host the 29th Annual University/Community Martin Luther King, Jr. Banquet and Award Presentation from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. Students and citizens will receive awards for work in their communities. Tickets to the banquet are $25. For information, go to or call student coordinator Brooke Hill at 919-962-0202.


• The Day of Service hosted by the United Way of the Greater Triangle in Orange County will be a community reading session from 9 a.m. to noon at Extraordinary Ventures on S Elliott Road. Volunteers can help children get excited about reading through story time, making bookmarks and flashcards and encouraging them to read at home with a “literacy kit.” For more information, go to

• The Martin Luther King, Jr. rally, march and worship service will begin at 9 a.m. at the Franklin Street Post Office and end at First Baptist Church on Roberson Street. The service begins 11 a.m. at the church and will include choir performances and a ceremony to honor military members. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro and UNC-Chapel Hill chapters of the NAACP are sponsoring the event. For more information, go to

• The 24th Annual MLK/American Red Cross Blood Drive will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. at the gym of the Hargraves Recreation Center on N. Roberson Street. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is sponsoring the event. For registration or questions, contact Monica McKnight at 919-360- 5377 or Erma Smith-King at 919-303-9686.

• Author and stage actor Hill Harper will deliver an address at UNC-Chapel Hill Memorial Hall at 7:30 p.m. Harper is known for his New York Times bestseller “Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny.” Students who have made contributions to improving the quality of life in North Carolina will recieve this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship. For free but required tickets, go to



• The 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast will take place from 6 to 8 a.m. at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel on Emperor Boulevard. The program begins at 7:15 a.m. The event will include the pledge of allegiance, remarks from Otis Moss, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, remarks from Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, prayers for world peace and music selections. For more information, go to



• Garner’s Fourth Annual MLK Celebration will be at 4 p.m. at the Garner Performing Arts Center on West Garner Road. The theme is “One Community, One Nation, One Dream.” Organizers ask attendees to bring canned food and non-perishable items for Garner Area Ministries. For information, contact David G. Prince at 919-369-5767 or email



• Johnston County Community College will hold a Martin Luther King Gospel Jubilee Celebration at the auditorium on College Road at 4 p.m. Jeff Patterson & Company, Michael Boykin and The Mighty Voices, The Hendley Brothers, The New Spiritual Messengers and The Sensational Nightingales will perform. Tickets are $15. Contact Pastor Curtis worthy at 910-824-9091 for information. For tickets, go to



• The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March will begin at the middle school on Ennis Street at 8:30 a.m. and travel to St. Augusta Baptist Church on Ridge Street. A free continental breakfast will be available, followed by a series of speakers, including pastor James Seymour from Raleigh and Mayor John Byrne of Fuquay-Varina. For more information, contact Marion Tucker at 919-285-4135 or email



• The Day of Service hosted by the United Way of the Greater Triangle in Johnston County will be a community reading session from 9 a.m. to noon at the Clayton Center on E 2nd Street. Volunteers can help children get excited about reading through story time, making bookmarks and flashcards and encouraging them to read at home with a “literacy kit.” For more information, go to

Gilman: 919-829-8955

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