In honor of MLK: Annual celebration kicks off Saturday

From left, Zaysha Harris, Alisa Berryman, Zamaria Harris and Zaryah Wilburn rehearse with the MLK Youth Choir on Jan. 9 in preparation for the choir’s performance during Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremonies this coming Monday, Jan. 20.

A Saturday evening gospel concert at North Central Texas College kicks off three days of free events celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

The concert is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, inside the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts, 1525 W. California St., and will feature the Central Pointe Church Praise Team, Denton Gospelaires, Men of Purpose and Friendly Five.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, an MLK church service will take place at St. James CME Church, 430 Throckmorton St., according to a weekend event program provided by Carolyn Hendricks, secretary for the MLK Committee, a nonprofit organization that hosts the events each year.

Refreshments will be provided.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a parade will step off from the Santa Fe Depot, 605 E. California St., and travel down California, make a left on Weaver Street and end at the Gainesville Civic Center, 311 S. Weaver St.

Hendricks said Wednesday, Jan. 15, that anyone can enter the parade at no cost. All participants have to do is show up at the depot at 9:30 a.m., she said.

Immediately following the parade at 10:30 a.m. is an MLK program at the civic center. The program will feature music, speakers from various entities and award presentations, according to the MLK Celebration weekend program.

MLK Committee Chairman Jerry Henderson told members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court this week that Monday’s program at the civic center should last about an hour.

“Everyone is invited,” Henderson said.

There will also be a meal provided, he said.

The day concludes with an open gym from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County, 315 N. Denton St.

There will be a DJ for dancing and basketball to play, Henderson said.

On Monday, Jan. 13, commissioners presented Henderson and Hendricks with an MLK Day proclamation encouraging Cooke County residents to “find a worthy organization” to pledge service to all year long.

Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service’s website. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

This is Gainesville’s 28th annual MLK celebration.

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