Itawamba County’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr Commemorative Celebration
Date(s) - 01/19/2013-01/20/2013
The thing about Itawamba County’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative celebration is that it isn’t necessarily a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. at all.
It’s about the civil rights leader’s legacy, not the man himself; it’s about the present instead of the past.
This year’s event will take place over two days — Saturday, Jan. 19, and Sunday, Jan. 20. Saturday night’s program will center on a variety of performances — from gospel singing to drama performances to poetry recitation — in which anyone is welcome to participate.
The following day, the event will resume with the annual unity march, beginning at 2 p.m. on Itawamba Community College’s Fulton campus, near the Fine Arts Auditorium. Each year, a myriad of people join together to march around downtown Fulton in the spirit of togetherness central to Dr. King’s message.
After the march, participants will be invited to take a seat inside the ICC Fine Arts Auditorium for the program. This year’s special guest speaker will be Pastor Patrick Head of Friendship CME Church in Fulton.
The program will also feature performances by the Martin Luther King Choir and The Trio.
The MLK Day Planning Committee will also take time to present the annual Spirit of Itawamba Award, which is given to a resident or group that the committee feels best exhibits the goodwill and kindness inherent in the area.
This year, the group will be giving out Spirit Awards to two organizations — area Girl Scouts and the Mingo Motorcycle Club. MLK Day Planning Committee head Emma Cook said both groups do their best to benefit Itawamba County with their efforts.
“[The Girl Scouts] are helping so many young girls be active in their communities and aware of what’s going on in America,” Cook said. “They’re helping those girls with life.”
The Mingo Motorcycle Club, which includes many riders from Itawamba County, deserves recognition for all the charity work it has done over the years.
“They’re out there helping others, and that’s a good thing,” she said.
This is the 13th such event hosted in Itawamba County. Each year, a committee of four people, including coordinator Emma Cook, plan and organize the event. In a way, it’s a passion project for the group, one they hope will continue to live on long past their involvement.
“We’re still small, but we’re nonstop,” Cook said, adding that she has no trouble recruiting volunteers when it comes to participating in the event itself, but she can’t seem to drum up support for the planning portion of the program. “People want to help at the end, but we have trouble getting people to join in early to generate new ideas.”
It’s a battle the group has been waging for years, but one that Cook said is gradually being won. The introduction of Saturday’s event, which began two years ago, has helped. The event is wholly organized by a group of ICC students and is targeted toward a younger crowd.
Even if some of the kids who participate in the event are only vaguely familiar with the life of Dr. King, Cook said it’s important they come to understand his message of peace and unity.
“We’re trying to instill [in younger generations] the need to keep this event going,” Cook said.
In that way, the annual event truly falls in line with Dr. King’s vision — always facing forward, looking toward the future.
For more information on the Itawamba County Martin Luther King Day celebration, to perform during Saturday’s event or to join the MLK Day planning committee, call 662-791-1888 or 862-7692.