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Two weeks of events celebrate life of Dr. King

Jan. 6, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University and the Northside Ministerial Alliance are teaming up for the fourth consecutive year to put on a memorable series of free events honoring the memory of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This year's annual communitywide celebration will include two weeks of events and is called "Recovering a Lost Dream: Community, Faith and Vision." The Jan. 8-20 commemoration will begin with a Kickoff Celebration, one of four major events being sponsored this year by the WMU-NMA Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

Among the many other events scheduled are a variety of lectures, workshops and discussions that are being sponsored by individuals and organizations throughout Kalamazoo. A complete list of events is available online at www.wmich.edu/mlk.

Deveta Gardner, a WMU staff member and chairperson of the WMU-NMA MLK Committee, says the continuing collaboration between the University and the alliance has resulted in Kalamazoo's MLK celebration growing each year.

"We've planned a diverse series of events for 2006," Gardner says. "Our unique partnership continues to blaze a trail of hope, and proves that all things are possible if we focus on our commonalities instead of our differences."

Kalamazoo is to be commended for forming and growing that partnership, adds Minister Doreen Gardner, NMA chairperson, who expects more than 2,500 people to attend this year's events.

"It's been an awesome experience for the educational sector and the religious sector to come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King," she says. "The city of Kalamazoo and surrounding communities are blessed. You won't find too many cities with a collaboration of this nature or magnitude."

The 2006 MLK celebration kickoff event will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, at Galilee Baptist Church in Kalamazoo. It will feature a stirring message by the Rev. Charles Christian Adams, associate pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, and a performance by the 100-voice MLK Celebration Choir.

Adams has preached throughout the United States, Europe and Africa and has presented drug and alcohol abuse seminars and college preparation workshops across the country. He also has extensive experience working with youth as a minister in Bronx, N.Y.; a program coordinator in the chaplain's office at Columbia University; a youth steward for the World Council of Churches Central Committee in Geneva, Switzerland; and a youth representative for the American Baptist Churches in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The next major WMU-NMA MLK Committee event will be a Multicultural Celebration at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, which is MLK's birthday. This event will feature a presentation by Frank H. Wu, dean of the Wayne State University Law School and a noted diversity specialist. Those attending also will be treated to remarks by WMU President Judith I. Bailey, a community litany, and performances by the 100-voice MLK Celebration Choir, members of the WMU dance department and a musical ensemble of Kalamazoo Public Schools students.

Wu was named dean of the Wayne State University Law School in 2004. He is the author of "Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White" and co-author of "Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment." He is a former civil attorney, was on the law faculty of Howard University, and has been an adjunct professor at Columbia University, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan and a teaching fellow at Stanford University.

The final major events for this year will be a Citywide Community Day of Service and a Children's Fair on Monday, Jan. 16--national MLK Day.

Area residents are asked to honor King by engaging in community service projects in the morning, starting at 9 a.m., and completing them in the afternoon. Special activities planned for the day include a 10:30 a.m. march to MLK Park on North Rose Street, where there will be a wreath- laying ceremony, and a noon luncheon at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

The Children's Fair will be open from 2 through 5 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo. The event is for children of all ages and will include activity booths staffed by WMU students.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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