The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 83 years old today had he not been shot and killed at a Memphis, Tenn., hotel. at the age of 39.
But his legacy lives on, and it will be celebrated at events throughout Robeson County today and on Monday, the federal holiday in his honor.
Red Springs will hold its annual celebration of the slain civil rights leader at 6 p.m. today at First Baptist Church in Red Springs. Sen. Eric Mansfield, a reverend in Cumberland County, will be the guest speaker.
The celebration is for people of all races to commemorate what King has done for all people of the United States, said town Commissioner Eula C. McNeill, one of the organizers of the event.
“It pulls the community together,” McNeill said. “It’s a good sign of camaraderie in the town.”
According to McNeill, the town has honored the late King since 1985 — one year before Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a federal holiday, which is observed on the third Monday in January.
In the past, the Red Springs chapter of Las Amigas opened the event with a prayer vigil and march from Town Hall to Red Springs Middle School, where the program would continue.
Now, the event rotates between the churches in town.
This year’s event will feature a performance from B and M choir under direction of Sherwin Breeden. Presiding over the ceremony will be Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Simpson, of First Ministry Baptist Church in Red Springs, and Sherlie McBride, secretary of Red Springs Concerned Citizens, will be the master of ceremonies.
Sen. Michael Walters and county Commissioner Noah Woods are expected to attend, as well as Rev. William Cummings, who was one of the event’s original organizers for the Red Springs Ministerial Alliance.
Other observances of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. include:
— The Robeson County Black Caucus will celebrate King beginning at noon Monday at First Baptist Church in Lumberton. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Albert W. Moses, pastor of Matthews-Murkland Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
A pastor for more than 25 years, Moses is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University. He received his Master of Divinity degree from the Johnson C. Smith Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He has served as pastor at churches in Florida and North Carolina.
— The seventh annual celebration in Fairmont will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at the Fairmont Heritage Center. There will be a re-creation of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, singing and refreshments. Dr. J. Gentile Everett of Mill Branch Baptist Church will be the speaker.
— Maxton will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration beginning at 1 p.m. Monday at the R.B. Dean Elementary School. Keynote speaker for the event, being sponsored by Seniors Aging Gratefully, Enthusiastically and Spirited, will be state Rep. Garland Pierce.
Immediately following the celebration at the school, which will include entertainment, there will be a march from the school through the downtown.
— Rowland’s annual celebration, sponsored by the Carolina Youth Action Association, begins at 11 a.m. Monday. A march will begin at the ABC store on U.S. 301 and proceed south on Martin Luther King Street to the Southside-Ashpole Elementary School Alumni Building, located directly across from the school.
A program and luncheon will be held at the alumni building at noon. The theme of this year’s program is “Faith, Hope and Peace,” with the guest speaker being the Rev. Robert Hunter, pastor of the Magnolia AME Methodist Church in Hamer, S.C.
— Partners In Ministry is planning to honor the slain civil rights leader with a day of service on Monday in the Scotland County town of Gibson. The organization will be distributing energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and safety tips to homes in Scotland, Richmond and Robeson counties.
“There are hundreds of lessons we can learn from the work of Dr. King.” said Melba McCallum, director of the ministry. “The lesson we are focusing on this Monday is that through service, a group of regular people can make positive change in their community.”
Volunteers of all ages are encouraged to gather at 10 a.m. Monday at the Resource and Referral Center at 13280 Church St. in Gibson for hot chocolate and coffee before going out to distribute bulbs and informational fliers to homes.