Martin Luther King Day events emphasize peace amid the city’s escalating violence

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Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger file photo

Majorette Captain Kayla Johnson, a 10th grader at New Orleans Science and Mathematics High School, catches her batons as her group waits for the start of the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance March.

The city has a full slate of Martin Luther King Jr. Day events planned for the holiday weekend, with the preeminent event taking place on Monday (Jan. 16), the national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Events include concerts, a day of service, art exhibits, worship services, and Monday’s march and ceremony to commemorate King during 60th year since the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

As street violence escalates in New Orleans — the nation’s murder capital in 2022 — organizers are emphasizing King’s message of nonviolence throughout the weekend’s events.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a symbolic staple of peace in our communities who spoke passionately of unifying our country nonviolently and truly believing the one way to end injustices in our communities is through non-violent approaches,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a press release.

“Sixty years later, as our communities are grappled with violence, I ask today that we all take a page from Dr. King’s book. No longer can we continue to hurt each other nor others around us. We are the catalyst for change, and the time is now.”

Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger file photo

City leaders start the parade during the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembrance March.

Cantrell quoted Dr. King, stating: “‘Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.'”

Cantrell and co-chairmen Julius Feltus and Dr. Levon LeBan invite the public to attend the 37th Annual MLK Commemorative Celebration at 10 a.m. on Monday (Jan. 16), the official MLK holiday, at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third St., the site of the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

New Zion Baptist Church plays a significant role in civil rights history. On Feb. 14, 1957, a group of activists from across the South met at the church at the corner of Third and LaSalle streets and formed the civil rights organization Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Their first president was a 28-year-old preacher, Martin Luther King Jr.

Sabree Hill, Uptown Messenger file photo

A 5-year-old marcher holds a sign during the wreath-laying ceremony.

Below are the events planned to commemorate the civil rights leader.

Saturday, Jan. 14

Let Freedom Ring! Party: Ashé Cultural Arts Center kicks off its celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with sounds by DJ Raj Smoove and performances from Flagboy Giz, Sunni Patterson and $leazy Ez.
Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. 

National Conference of Artists Commemorative Art Exhibition: In its 26th year, the NCA Arts Exhibition features work from artists celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, and the continued fight for justice and peace. It is titled “Who Speaks for the People?”
Opening reception on Saturday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the The Building, 1427 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., and the Ashe’ Cultural Center Powerhouse, 1731 Baronne St.

Sunday, Jan. 15

MLK sculpture

REAL March and Wreath Laying Ceremony: The Recreating the Environmental Ability to Live (REAL) March commemorative event is always held on Jan. 15, the day the Rev. Martin Luther King was born in 1929.

It traditionally begins at A.L. Davis Park and stops at the abstract sculpture at MLK and Oretha Castle Haley boulevards that symbolizes King reaching for brotherhood and reconciliation. It then proceeds to the MLK memorial on South Claiborne and MLK, where the Wreath Laying Ceremony is held.
Sunday beginning at 9 a.m.

Monday, Jan. 16

March and Rally Against Crime: This year’s march calls for an end to the violence in the name of the peaceful ideals of Rev. Martin Luther King. The march begins 9 a.m. at the MLK memorial and ends with a rally at A.L. Davis Park.

START: 9 a.m. at Martin Luther King memorial, MLK Boulevard and South Claiborne Avenue. 
MLK Boulevard to Simon Bolivar Avenue
Simon Bolivar to LaSalle Street. Stop at New Zion Baptist Church, LaSalle and Third
Rally at A.L. Davis Park, 2600 LaSalle St. 

Remember. Celebrate. Act: The city’s MLK Commemorative Celebration includes speeches and presentations with U.S. Rep. Troy Carter and others.
Monday at 10 a.m. at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third St.

Commissioners’ Reception: A reception will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 3613 Saint Charles Ave., at 2 p.m.

Day of Service: Volunteering has become a popular way to honor King’s legacy for the many who have the day off for MLK Day. Volunteers must register in advance with the nonprofit organization. Events include Days of Service at Mildred Osborne Charter School, 6701 Curran Blvd. from 8 a.m. to noon. (Register here) and at New Orleans City Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (More information here. Register here).

Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger file photo

The Sophie B. Wright bands marches down Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard at the start of the MLK Remembrance March in 2020.

One thought on “Martin Luther King Day events emphasize peace amid the city’s escalating violence

  1. Any wagers on the number of murders on peace day? Seems like only the peaceful embrace peace. The others have business as usual. Perhaps embracing peace is taking one’s eye off the ball.

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