By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
The city of Clinton will celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 19.
The 26th annual celebration will begin at 2 p.m. with a march honoring MLK’s message of peace, tolerance and equality, where people are invited to not march in protest, but in recognition of the message of the civil rights leader.
Attendance at the march typically is subject to the unforgiving January weather, but according to one of the event’s organizers, Shannon Brubaker, the people who come out in support of the march are those who truly stand up for civil rights.
“That’s really stepping up and speaking through your attendance for those folks that worked so hard, not so long ago to make a difference in the civil rights movement,” Brubaker said.
Marchers will begin at Second Baptist Church in Clinton and travel through the streets of Clinton, reflecting on the importance of social justice issues before concluding at the Durgin Center at Ashford University.
There, a special presentation will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will feature acclaimed radio show host and political activist, “The Black Eagle” Joe Madison.
He has served on the NAACP’s national board of directors, led four separate voter registration marches, and has worked tirelessly to help the oppressed, traveling to Sudan on three separate occasions to help free more than 7,000 slaves and deliver survival kits to refugees.
Because of Madison’s many years as a public speaker and his highly respected activism, Brubaker and other organizers are excited to have him speak to kids of the next generation as well as reiterate the importance of continuing MLK’s work.
“We’re trying to set a good example to the youth in the community,” Brubaker said. “There’s still work to be done, still instances that we could all step up to make a difference. It’s time to stem the tide of apathy.”
In addition to Madison’s keynote speech and the march reenactment, the Clinton MLK committee will also present the 12th annual Peace and Justice Award to this year’s recipient, Mardell Mommsen.
Because of her dedication to spreading the word of peace and justice through her participation in the Stop the Hate/Show the Love Walk, the Clinton Peace Coalition and the Board of Directors at the YWCA, Mommsen will join the ranks of several influential Clinton leaders, including former Mayor LaMetta Wynn and Clinton Police Chief Brian Guy, as a Peace and Justice award winner.
“We had some really fantastic nominees so it was a really difficult this year,” Brubaker said. “She has done so much work with the community, especially in this vein and she doesn’t do what she does for recognition. She’s quite deserving for the peace and justice award.”
All residents are invited to take part in the free MLK day of service celebration and are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to local food pantries.
In addition to the keynote speech and the honoring of Mommsen, the celebration will feature a combined choir that will lead attendees in song as well as a dance performance by the Second Baptist High Steppers.
The day is meant to bring the community together in celebration of the man who changed the civil rights movement but, as Brubaker said, it is something much more than just a day of fun.
“I think it’s kind of two-fold. It’s a day to pause and appreciate what Dr. King accomplished for us through his sacrifice and leadership,” Brubaker said. “But it’s also a day to stop and look around and see what yet needs to be accomplished.”