MLK Day event celebrates visions of civil rights activist

Rose Johnsongale of Umatilla leads a group in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Hermiston. This year's event is Monday, Jan. 16, near Hermiston City Hall.

An event to honor the life and dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. is planned in Hermiston.

Coordinated by the Black International Awareness Club, the event includes a community walk, special speakers and music.

John Carbage, president of the Hermiston group, said it’s important to bring awareness to King’s accomplishments and the work that he began years ago. In addition, Virginia Rome-Garcia said in today’s political climate, it’s crucial now, more than eve,r for people to unite together in solidarity.

“It’s a very important time that we need to build a positive community,” said Rome-Garcia, who serves on the club’s board of directors. “We need to make a difference in our community by being involved.”

The event is Monday, Jan. 16, from noon to 2 p.m. People are invited to gather at 11:45 a.m. in front of the First United Methodist Church, 191 E. Gladys Ave., Hermiston. From there, people will embark on a short Peace Walk, which ends at Hermiston City Hall, 180 N.E. Second St.

Rome-Garcia will introduce Mayor Dave Drotzmann before the group returns to the Methodist church.

The ceremony begins at 12:30 p.m. in the church’s sanctuary. It will include opening remarks by Jody Frost and an introduction of the keynote speaker by Jesus Rome.

Carbage and Rome-Garcia are excited about having Jordan Chaney making the presentation. An author/poet and community activist, he resides in the Tri-Cities. In addition to sharing his personal experiences while growing up, Rome-Garcia said Chaney encourages a positive and nurturing environment.

“With his poems, he brings people together,” she said. “He’s a very phenomenal speaker.”

The ceremony also includes prayers by Rev. Robert Edie of Greater Faith Baptist Church and Rev. Albert Wilkins of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, both in Pasco.

In addition, an open mic will provide an opportunity for people in attendance to briefly share their thoughts. Carbage will conclude with closing remarks. Refreshments will be served in the church’s fellowship hall.

Upwards of 100 people usually attend the annual event, which is in its 17th year in Hermiston. It celebrates King’s work in civil rights for all minorities.

King, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was a pastor, author and civil rights advocate. In 1963, King delivered his famous “l Have a Dream” speech with more than 250,000 people present in Washington, D.C.

He was fatally shot while on the balcony of a motel April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Black International Awareness Club meets the second Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. at Starbucks, 1235 N. First St., Hermiston. People of all races and cultures are invited to attend.

For more information about the event or club meetings, call Carbage at 541-701-7073 or Rome-Garcia at 541-720-6895.

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