At 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration will begin with a march from the Greenbrier County Courthouse to the Lewisburg United Methodist Church via Washington Street.
Right before the march there will be an invocation, and Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White will read her proclamation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Week 2020. As usual, commemorative banners will be attached to the lampposts in town for the week.
After the march, a free community lunch will be served in the church, catered by Lisa Carter’s Culinary Class at Davis Stuart. At 12:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary there will be a program of singing, oration, and reading of essays by children that will celebrate Dr. King’s accomplishments and build enthusiasm for carrying forward his dream of equality in civil rights and harmony among all races.
At the start of the program everyone will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with lyrics by James Weldon Johnson and music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. It was first performed in 1919, and it carries with it a cry for liberation and affirmation for African-American people.
The theme for this year’s event derives from the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Elementary school students entered the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay Contest and Art Contest based their works on this theme. Students in Greenbrier and Monroe County participated, and the winning essays and works of art will be featured in the program.
Nevaeh Traynham will sing “Help Us to Love” and another uplifting song. Her solo at last year’s celebration was exceptionally well received. Solos will also be sung by Christopher Winston. In addition, there will be something extra provided by youth.
The keynote speaker will be Rev. Dr. Joseph Evans, dean of Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Evans has close ties with this area of West Virginia and graduated from the West Virginia Institute of Technology in Montgomery with a B.A. in History and Government before earning Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. He is an inductee into Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King, Jr. College of Preachers.
Two days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Dr. Evans will contribute additionally by speaking to a gathering in the Lewis Theatre on N. Court Street in Lewisburg at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. His emphasis then will be on topics covered in his newest book which is about economic justice as the ethical imperative for the 21st Century. Also included in this Jan. 18 program will be the showing of a short film titled “Suppressed: The Fight to Vote.” Everyone is invited.
Questions about the event may be directed to Larry Davis at 304-646-0602. Donations in support of the Martin Luther King Day Celebration may be made at the event or mailed to the MLK Committee c/o Child Youth Advocacy Center at 212 W. Washington Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901.