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WNC celebrates MLK Day

art mlkeventsIn honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 19, there will be an variety of events around Western North Carolina.

Established as an annual day of remembrance that was passed by both houses of Congress, MLK Day was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in November 1983, with its first celebration occurring in 1986. Since then, U.S. citizens volunteer their service on MLK Day, the third Monday in January.

• Unitarian minister and social activist John Haynes Holmes will present “NAACP: The Moral Monday Movement” at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin. Holmes is a minister at The Community Church of New York — Unitarian Universalist, which were among the founders of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

• The “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and Gratitude” will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 19 at Bridge Street Park in Sylva. The service is sponsored by the Jackson County NAACP, which also has active membership for Swain and Macon counties until each can have their own branch. The group will also be hosting a roadway cleanup between the Catamount Gap and the Western Carolina University entrance. For the cleanup, meet at 8 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Cullowhee Post Office. There will also be a collection of non-perishable food for The Community Table and United Christian Ministries, with items to be brought to the Bridge Park celebration.

• The Haywood County Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee will host a Pride March at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, which will start at the Harris Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church and conclude at the Town Annex in Canton. A commemorative service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Canton. The 25th annual Prayer Breakfast with guest speaker Janie Sinacore-Jaberg will be at 8 a.m. Jan. 19 in the Lambuth Inn Dining Room at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Sinacore-Jaberg is the vice president of regional operations for Carolinas Healthcare System. 828.215.0296 or 828.246.2588.

• Brandon A. Robinson will be the keynote speaker for the MLK Day celebration at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, in the A.K. Hinds University Center at Western Carolina University. Robinson is an attorney, two-time Western Carolina University alumnus and member of the WCU Board of Visitors. There will also be a range of service activities taking place at varying locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 19 and 24 on the WCU campus. The event is coordinated by WCU’s Center for Service Learning. The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will host a Unity March at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 19 behind the University Center. Students will recite various speeches of social justice at noon Tuesday, Jan. 20 from the University Center balcony. There will be a music performance and showcase art display about the Civil Rights Movement at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the University Center. The Robinson address and all MLK Day celebration events at WCU are free and open to the public.

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