COLUMBUS, GA – Various community-building programs are set to take place around the Chattahoochee Valley in January to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The 2010 Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Celebration for the Chattahoochee Valley will feature a "diversity forum" at RiverCenter to be telecast live, an educational/service campaign for low-income tax filers, a bi-city parade, special community wide clean-up and youth-oriented programs, and commemorative events and services by several local churches.
The commemoration is coordinated by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Steering Committee of the Chattahoochee Valley. The committee's mission is to "preserve and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and share in his vision that expands the intellectual and spiritual experience of being fully human in a community marked by diversity."
The committee is comprised of representatives of different churches, plus organizations including the Muscogee County Clergy Association; One Columbus, Inc.; Hands On the Valley, the United Way Volunteer Center; and Columbus State University.
The MLK unity celebration will kick off at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at Spirit Filled Ministries, 3898 Mulberry Drive, Columbus with a ceremony commemorating the Jan. 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Kenneth B. Martin of the Antioch Baptist Church in August, GA.
Hands on the Valley will launch its 2010 MLK Serve-a-Thon that targets low-income tax filers as part of an educational campaign about who is entitled to the Earned Income and Child Tax credits. Through January, the agency will promote the initiative and recruit qualified volunteers to prepare taxes in conjunction with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) coalition. From Jan. 15-April 15, tax filers with yearly incomes less than $49,000 can have their taxes prepared cost-free at the Contact Chattahoochee Valley Office, Columbus Public Library, Mission Columbus Central, The Family Center (for center clients only) and the Homeless Resource Network (for homeless individuals only).
More programs and events that are part of the MLK unity celebration include:
• Jan 4-8 - City-Wide Spiritual Renewal
This weeklong program at Fourth Street Baptist Church of Columbus will involve guest keynote speaker Rev. William T. Glynn from Fort Worth, Texas, plus classes starting 6 p.m. and services at 7 p.m. For more information, call 706-324-2055.
• Jan. 5 - Columbus City Council Meeting Unity Month Proclamation
• Jan. 8 - MLK Pride Clean Up Campaign Kickoff
Combined Communities of Southeast Columbus will kick off this annual campaign at 9 a.m. at the Lonnie Jackson Academy School, 4601 Buena Vista Road. CCSC will collaborate with schools and various organizations in clean up and beautification projects starting January through February 10th. For more information, call Lonya Jackson-Sarden at 706-315-984
• Jan. 11 – MLK Unity Service
The Muscogee County Clergy Association and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance are coordinating this annual service for church congregations community-wide, starting 6:30 p.m. at St. Luke Ministry Center, 301 11th Street. For more information, contact Rev. Rich Martindale at 706-322-5569.
• Jan. - 14 MLK Day Observance at Columbus State
Columbus State will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 in the Davidson Student Center auditorium. The speaker is Bishop Ann Hardman, Faith Worship Center, Columbus. The program, themed "What happens to a dream deferred," is free and open to the public. Call 706-568-2273 for more information.
• Jan. 15 - Keep Columbus Beautiful Serv-A-Thon Beautification Project
South Columbus Elementary will engage selected students from the school and adult members from CB&T, their partner-in-education starting at 9am. Contact Gloria Weston-Smart at 706-653-4008 for more information.
• Jan. 15 - VITA Coalition Kicks off Free Tax Preparation Service
The VITA Coalition, of which Hands on the Valley/United Way is a partner, is coordinating this service for low-income tax filers ($49,000 or less) through April 15 at various locations. For more information call 706-324-4366.
• Jan. 16 - Annual MLK Unity Parade of Excellence
This 14th annual bi-city event will start at 1 p.m. at Colin Powell Parkway in Phenix City, cross the bridge and end up at 9th Street and Broadway in Columbus. For more information, call Clarice Muhammed at 706-761-7414.
• Jan. 17 - Unity Sunday for All Faiths
Sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Columbus, the service is set for 10 a.m. at St. Mary's Road United Methodist Church. The speaker will be Bishop L.D. Skinner, Sr. of the Bread of Life Christian Center. For more information, call 706-323-3687.
• Jan. 18 – City-Wide Youth and Adult Observance
The program at St. James AME Church will involve four, 30-40-minute phases of teaching, with group rotations. The program will close around p.m. A light lunch will be served. A $50 and $25 award will be given to the best and second best written and presented "I have a dream speech. For more information contact William Lyde at 706-332-8653 for more information.
• Jan. 18 - MLK Commemorative Service at the Medical Center
This annual service is set for 11 a.m. in the Medical Center Conference Center. A keynote speaker will be Dr. Sylvester McRae. For more information, call Rev. Michael Stewart at 706-571-1795.
• Jan. 18 - MLK Memorial Service at Metropolitan Baptist Church
The service is set for noon at the church, 1633 5th Avenue, Columbus. The keynote speaker will be Judge Michael Bellamy. For more information call 706-322-1488.
• Jan. 18 - City-Wide MLK Youth Summit
Fourth Street Baptist Church, 222 5th Street, hosts this annual event, for all ages, starting at 2 p.m. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. Three speakers will address various topics about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program will close with oratorical, mime and dance competitions. A light snack will be provided. For more information, call 706-324-2055.
• Jan. 18 - Alpha Unity Awards Breakfast
This 24th annual event begins at 7 a.m. at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door for adults and $15 in advance or $20 at door for high school and college students. For more information, call Fernando Verdree at 706-324-7071.
• Jan 20 - Diversity Celebration at Chattahoochee Valley Community College
Details of this 12-2 p.m. event will be announced by CVCC. Call 334-291-4803.
• Jan. 21 - Dare to Dream Youth Summit
The program, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center, will involve 100 youth from throughout the Chattahoochee Valley, who have been selected to participate. One Columbus Inc., and the Muscogee County School District are sponsors. For more information, contact Brandi Dawson-King at 706-332-5000.
• Jan. 21 - One Columbus-WTVM Diversity Forum
One Columbus, Inc., and WTVM are co-sponsoring this second annual event, starting 7 p.m. in RiverCenter's Studio Theatre. The opening hour will be telecast live by WTVM. Audience seating will be open to the public until the doors close at 6:45 p.m. For more information, contact Jorge Vega at
For more information about the MLK unity celebration, contact the MLK unity steering committee chairman, Rev. Gerald Goodman, at St. Mary's Road United Methodist Church at 706-689-8707.