CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 8, 2018) - The Southeast's largest celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) begins in Charlotte this Saturday, Jan. 13, with free, family-friendly events designed to promote inclusiveness in the community.
"The MLK weekend is an opportunity to recognize the grassroots leaders who are addressing issues of equality and economic opportunities for everyone in our community," said Delores Reid-Smith, chair of the celebration's organizing committee. "It's also a time when we celebrate the growing diversity of our city and county."
A full schedule of events is available online at mlk.charlottenc.gov. The 2018 Carolinas HealthCare System MLK National Holiday Celebration will include:
32nd Annual MLK Holiday Parade
The weekend's events will kick off Saturday, Jan. 13, at 10 a.m., with the 32nd annual MLK holiday parade through uptown Charlotte. A Charlotte tradition since 1981, the parade will feature more than 100 marching bands, step teams and other organizations traveling along Tryon Street, beginning at Ninth Street and ending at Stonewall Street.
Volunteers are encouraged to join the celebration and assist with parade operations and logistics. Sign up here to volunteer.
Hands On Charlotte MLK Call to Service Event
Each year, Hands On Charlotte honors the life and legacy of Dr. King by organizing service projects for hundreds of volunteers around the holiday that bears his name. These projects not only deliver valuable assistance to nonprofit organizations, schools and other service providers, but also allow participants to kick off the new year by reflecting on the meaning of Dr. King's life of service.
On Saturday, Jan. 13, from noon to 2 p.m., volunteers will complete family-friendly, sit-down assembly and creation projects including:
- Making bookmarks, "bookworm buddies," and writing "bookworm letters" for Promising Pages.
- Creating literacy kits for school and after-school programs.
All activities will be available at each site and are appropriate for all ages. Volunteers can participate at four convenient locations:
- Blythe Elementary School, 12202 Hambright Road in Huntersville.
- East Mecklenburg High School, 6800 Monroe Road in Charlotte.
- Piedmont Open IB Middle School, 1201 E. 10th Street in Charlotte.
- Renaissance West STEAM Academy, 3241 New Renaissance Way in Charlotte.
Those interested in volunteering can register here.
MLK Growing the Dream Awards Ceremony
The MLK Growing the Dream Awards recognize unsung heroes, including grassroots leaders, who work behind the scenes for the betterment of Charlotte-area neighborhoods. Award winners will be recognized at a ceremony in the Grimes Lounge of the student union at Johnson C. Smith University on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 12:30 p.m.
The MLK Please Educate All Children Equally (P.E.A.C.E) Basketball Showcase
Eight high school teams from across North Carolina and South Carolina will compete in the second annual invitational competition beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Johnson C. Smith University's Jack S. Brayboy Gymnasium.
- 1 p.m.: West Mecklenburg High School boys vs. Northside Christian boys.
- 3 p.m.: West Charlotte High School girls vs. Rock Hill High School girls.
- 5 p.m.: West Charlotte High School boys vs. Northside Christian boys.
- 7 p.m.: Northwood Temple boys vs. Charlotte Olympic High boys.
Tickets can be purchased at the door. Admission is $10. Children 5 years old and younger are free.
MLK March for Justice and Wreath-laying ceremony
Nearly fifty years after the death of Dr. King, marchers will meet on the plaza outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame, at the intersection of East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South Brevard Street, on Monday, Jan. 15, and march to Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte. The march will begin at 9:15 a.m. and will be followed by the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the base of the statute dedicated to Dr. King in Marshall Park.
National observance of MLK holiday
The MLK celebration will conclude Monday with an ecumenical service and awards ceremony at the Dale F. Halton Theater at Central Piedmont Community College's Central Campus, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. in Charlotte, beginning at 11 a.m.
The Community Relations Committee will present the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medallion and Keeper of the Dream awards to dedicated Charlotte community members who exemplify Dr. King's ideals and work tirelessly to promote peace and strengthen the community.
Finally, students from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) will honor Dr. King's advocacy of nonviolent protests through poetry, dance, works of art and writing, as part of the CMS Arts and Writing Contest. This program, the culminating event of the MLK festivities, allows students to connect Dr. King's legacy with current events. Two award winners from each grade, K-12 – one winner for the arts and one winner for writing – will be recognized and take home prizes.
About the Carolinas HealthCare System MLK National Holiday Celebration
Dr. King believed in celebrating and promoting the worth of every human being. In his pursuit of equal rights by nonviolent means, Dr. King encouraged diverse cultures to live together in a spirit of love, understanding and service to one another.
In that same spirit, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, through the Community Relations Committee, have come together to expand the community's observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Those who are committed to carrying Dr. King's legacy forward from generation to generation are celebrated each year through the Carolinas HealthCare System MLK National Holiday Celebration.
Organizing partners of the MLK celebration include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Johnson C. Smith University, Hands On Charlotte and members of the faith community. Events are sponsored by Carolinas HealthCare System. Additional support has been provided by BB&T, WSOC-TV, Food Lion, WBTV and PNC Bank.
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