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Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Sunday, January 20, 2013
MLK Day events fill Key West starting today

The island city of Key West has a full roster of events to celebrate and commemorate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a national holiday since 1986 that honors the minister who became the iconic civil rights movement leader.

This year's MLK holiday falls on Monday, but events started Saturday night with the second annual free holiday dinner at Casa Antigua, 314 Simonton St., with musical performances by Queen Kathleen, the Blessed Community Gospel Choir and the Voices of Praise Choir.

Key West tends to go all out in honoring a leader like King, said Mayor Craig Cates.

"I don't think it seems like a lot," said Cates, via phone Friday from Washington, D.C., at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors. "It just seems like a natural thing to do, with 'One Human Family,' and what Martin Luther King Jr. did for freedom and equal rights."

Cates said he plans to return to the island in time for the MLK parade, set to line up at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Bahama Village. He was going to stay an extra few days in D.C. to attend Obama's inauguration, but changed his mind.

"It's too cold, so I'm coming home," said Cates. "I'll definitely watch [the inauguration]. I'm not going to stand out there in 30-degree weather to watch it."

City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, however, is braving the icy chill to attend the ceremony Monday.

King, who was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1964, three months after delivering the eulogy for four little school girls killed in a dynamite blast at Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church.

He was killed, at age 39, by a sniper's .30-caliber rifle shot that entered through his right cheek while he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

The King holiday packs an extra historical wallop in 2013, as the nation's first black president, Barack Obama, is sworn in for his second term.

Events have been added to Monday's holiday specifically for the Obama address.

The Southernmost Inaugural Ball is set from 8 to 11 p.m. Monday at the Harry S. Truman Little White House, 111 Front St., after an "All-American Cookout" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the same location, during which the 57th presidential inauguration and address will be shown live.

Tickets are available at 305-295-7676.

The Interfaith Ministerial Alliance (IMA) will hold the 2nd Annual Interfaith Scholarship Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. Monday at the Marriott Beachside Resort, 3841 N. Roosevelt Blvd.

Tickets are $50, and proceeds go toward a college scholarship for a Key West High School student.

The Rev. Charles Adams, the acclaimed minister at the Hartford Memorial Church in Detroit since 1969, will deliver the main address at the breakfast.

Adams, a prominent preacher who has spoken worldwide, is making his first trip to Key West this weekend, according to the Rev. Darryl Robinson, who said the full weekend calendar of MLK events suits the times.

"It reflects the magnanimous nature of Dr. King's influence," said Robinson on Friday. "There no one way to celebrate his life and legacy. We can always do it in new and creative ways. That is why this small community has found so many different ways to do it. We're not satisfied doing it one way."

Adams is a great catch for the island, said Robinson, as he is a widely sought speaker who taught at Harvard and has roots in the civil rights movement.

"He represents both the highest in academic excellence but the best in the preaching tradition in the African-American church," said Robinson. "He recently retired from Harvard Divinity School."

Key West's Dr. Jerome Covington will receive the Drum Major for Justice Award, given to someone who embodies the spirit of King's struggle for racial justice, equity, and compassion.

For tickets, call 305-296-5593 or 305-292-5401.

For more information about the breakfast, email MLK@keywestinterfaith.org or visit www.keywestinterfaith.org.

Local groups and city staff will hold the annual picnic, aimed at families, Monday afternoon at the MLK Community Pool and Community Center, 300 Catherine St.

From 1 to 4 p.m., hot dogs, sodas and other snacks will be offered at the Bahama Village center.

That's also where the community's traditional parade will begin gathering at 4:30 p.m. before marching through the streets to its destination, the Cornish Memorial AME Zion Church, 702 Whitehead St..

The church's annual MLK service begins at 6:30 p.m.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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