A special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration is planned at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at Hannibal High School auditorium, observing both King’s 84th birthday on Jan. 15 and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The program will not only “recognize Dr. King but also be about unifying the community,” said Faye Dant. “We are trying to make it special, and we want everybody to come.”
Dant expressed her appreciation to the Hannibal NAACP, which has been leading this annual celebration for several years. She explained that “this year it was turned over to the Hannibal African American Life and History Project (which she serves as founder and executive director) and the 2012 Juneteenth Celebration Committee. Also involved in planning the celebration are Marsha Mayfield and other members of Juneteenth committee.
This year’s theme, “Living the Legacy - Education Transforms,” will be featured by the speakers as they share how their education helped them achieve successful careers.
“Each will share their education and life experiences,” Dant said. “They will encourage parents and kids to value education.”
The speakers will be Tim Polley, executive director of Hannibal Regional Medical Group; W.T. Johnson, assistant principal of Veterans Elementary School, who also presents programs impersonating black historical leaders; Hannibal native Dr. Starla Green-Ivey, PhD., a professor at the University of Missouri; and Hannibal native Steve Kyer, president of Advance Medical Services, which he and his wife operate in the St. Louis area and recently opened in Hannibal.
Dant noted that Johnson’s presentation will include excerpts from King’s speeches.
Dant began working as an assistant teacher at Hannibal High School in September, where her husband, Joel, is working with the students’ house preservation program.
“With my position at HHS, I am able to come in contact with a lot of the young people in town and have gotten them excited about coming to the event,” Faye Dant said. “The Hannibal School District has been very supportive of this program and of me and Joel at the school.”
Young people participating in the celebration Sunday will include volunteer members of the Hannibal High School Chorus, the Embassy Christian Center’s Dance Squad and members of the Hannibal High School Natural Helpers organization.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day “is supposed to be a day of service,” Dant said. “That is the way his birthday was set up, so people can remember to take Monday as a day of service and provide some type of service to people of need in our community.”
She added that she “was impressed during the Christmas holiday when Michael Ginsberg and his group fed (delivered Christmas dinners to) 700 people.”
Page 2 of 2 - Dant suggested ways people could help this year, such as “showing up to do some tutoring at Willow Street Christian Church or running errands for someone who can’t get out.”