The spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. will be felt this weekend as a committed group of area residents is gearing up to commemorate the great man's life and legacy.
Planned events can offer pupils, parents, business leaders, city leaders, senior citizens and others a chance to come together to remember King for his visions of equality, racial justice and a nonviolent approach to social change.
As part of the local activities, a children's program is planned beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in Steubenville. "Martin in the Classroom" learning stations, as well as an MLK birthday party with cake and music will be among the activities.
There's also the 38th-annual Community Ecumenical Memorial Service planned at 6 p.m. Sunday at Quinn AME Church, 515 North St. Participants in the service will include Pastor Raymond Mickens, Delores Wiggins, Pastor Gary Hallberg, Bishop Roy Dawkins, Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci, state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, and Steubenville City Manager Tim Boland.
Jackie Gibson will welcome guests, and the marvelous Martin Luther King Memorial Mass Choir will perform under the direction of Wiggins, minister of music.
Also addressing the gathering will be the Rev. Nathan Malavolti, vice president for community relations at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and Laura Meeks, Eastern Gateway Community College president.
James Baber, MLK Association president and executive vice president at EGCC, will introduce the guest speaker, the Rev. Lewis Macklin.
The festivities will continue on Monday, with a continental breakfast beginning at 9 a.m. at the MLK Center. The MLK Memorial march will follow at 10:30 a.m. and will be led by the drum line provided by the Steubenville High School Band. Marchers will go from the MLK Center to SHS, and congregations, groups and organizations are encouraged to participate, with the largest delegation awarded a traveling trophy.
Once at the high school, a program awarding winners in the annual MLK essay contest will be revealed, among other highlights.
We again salute the many local MLK Jr. Association members who give their time and efforts each year to perfect a program honoring King. Their dedication to the project is clearly visible in each of the quality events presented.
Each year since 1983, the third Monday in January is marked as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a chance to recall his speech, "I Have a Dream," delivered Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and to recognize his many contributions to the civil rights movement.
We, as always, feel fortunate to have the chance to take part in events that delve into the life of one of history's greatest men.