Thursday, January 12, 2023

Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebrations set

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers “I Have a Dream”
speech at the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.
Next Monday is the annual celebration of the influential life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The federal holiday is scheduled each year on the Monday closest to Dr. King's birthday, Jan. 15.  

The idea of Martin Luther King Day 2023 as a holiday was promoted soon after his assassination in 1968. Following Dr. King's death, United States Representative, John Conyers, a democrat,  and United State Senator Edward Brooke, a republican, introduced a bill in Congress to make Dr. King's birthday a national holiday.

The bill first came to a vote in the United States House of Representatives in 1979 and fell five votes short of the number needed. There were two main arguments mentioned by opponents, the first being that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive and, secondly, that a holiday to honor the birth of a private citizen who had never held public office) would be contrary to the longstanding tradition.

The effort received more publicity shortly after the failure of the bill when in September of 1979, stevie Wonder released a song called “Happy Birthday” meant to make a case for the holiday. Additionally, six million signatures were collected on a petition in favor of the law.

In 1981, when President Ronald Reagan came into office, he originally opposed the holiday as did North Carolina senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East, both republicans. Each  questioned whether King was important enough to receive such an honor and criticized Dr. King's opposition to the Vietnam War.

Despite the opposition, Reagen signed a bill on Nov. 2, 1983 proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, to create a federal holiday honoring Dr. King. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives and was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986. Initially, some states resisted observing the holiday and it was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2020.

Canton Township and the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools are coming together to present “It Starts With Me,” a special Martin Luther King Day celebration to honor Dr. King's life and legacy and reflect on ways to continue to cultivate a beloved community. 

This special event will take place at The Village Theater at Cherry Hill, located at 50400 Cherry Hill Road. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for event participants to explore the Student Art Gallery and participate in hands-on art projects.  The main stage program is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., with welcomes presented by Canton Township Supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak and Plymouth Canton Community Schools  Superintendent Dr. Monica Merritt.  The program, which is also presented by the Canton Commission for Culture, Arts, and Heritage, will include student performances, as well as professional musical entertainment. 

No tickets are required for this free general admission event. For additional information, visit or call (734) 394-5300.

The City of Romulus, the Romulus Ministerial Alliance and the Romulus Community Schools will honor Dr. King with a morning march and presentation at the auditorium at Romulus High School. The Monday celebration will begin with a Community March from Romulus Middle School at 37300 Wick Road to the high school at 9650 Wayne Road. Shuttle service will be provided from the high school to the middle school from 7 a.m. until 7:45 a.m.

Marchers will travel down Wick Road east to Tobine Road, heading south beginning at 8 a.m.

Coffee and donuts will be served in the Romulus High School lobby from 8:30 until 9:30 a.m. sponsored by the Romulus Rotary Club.

At 10 a.m. the Martin Luther King ceremony will begin in the high school auditorium with keynote speaker Sen. Erika Geiss.

For more information, contact committee chairman the Rev. Arthur Willis at (313)701-2423 or City Clerk Ellen Craig-Bragg at (734) 837-8898. 

In Westland, the day will be commemorated with a Remembrance Walk followed by the official city ceremony.

Walkers will march from Westland City Hall starting at 9 a.m. and will be followed by the ceremony designed to express the impact Dr. King had on the city and individuals in the Grand Ballroom at 10 a.m.

The march and program, organizers said, is designed to explain what Dr. King's message means to the community and to help inspire people to continue with his message and “help make the world a more inclusive and righteous place for us and our children.”