By Wayne Towner
Special to the Times
PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg church is planning a celebration to honor civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday, the day before the holiday in his honor.
A local college will also have a program in honor of King next week.
Zion Baptist Church, located at Eighth and Clay streets in downtown Parkersburg, will hold a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, said Cindy Brown, one of the event organizers.
The church has hosted various programs in honor of the holiday over the years, including featured speakers and other activities. Brown said this year's event will focus on local involvement.
As part of the celebration, area ministers will reflect on King and what he meant to them and to the country as a whole. There will also be choir performances by Voices of Triumph Gospel Choir, From the Heart Ministries Praise Team and the Zion Baptist Church Choir.
Brown said the celebration will also have a youth element, with local teens presenting quotes from King's speeches and writings throughout the event, including some in sign language. A poem by a local fourth-grader will also be featured in the ceremony, she said.
West Virginia University at Parkersburg will be offering a "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration" at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in WVU-P's multipurpose room. The college is partnering with DuPont Washington Works on the sixth annual event honoring King.
The event will feature distinguished members of the community, representatives of WVU-P and DuPont, as well as the Warren High School choir in a multi-media presentation to include choral reading and singing directed by college theater instructor Jeff Byrd. Refreshments will be served at a reception to follow.
"The 'Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration' is more than a commemoration," Byrd said. "We will be venerating the dream he inspired by celebrating Dr. King and those who have marched before him from the distant past and those of us who must carry the flame forward to the next generation. Only from the past can we see the future, the dream will live on," he said.