The Lincoln County Coalition of Churches and the local chapter of the NAACP are inviting community members to assist them in their three-day celebration of one of the most well known Civil Rights leaders. For more than 20 years, the two organizations have hosted the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Program.
“We’ve been hosting the program together for almost a quarter of a century, but it hasn’t always been a county-wide program,” Lincoln County Coalition of Churches President and NAACP member Ola Mae Foster said.
Foster has been working with the program since its inception, collaborating with past Lincoln County NAACP presidents such as Robert Hamilton, Leroy Smith and James Friday. She follows the belief of King that people should all be able to work, socialize and worship together.
“We like to look at this Monday as not just a holiday, but a time to be actively involved in the community,” Foster said.
The three-day celebration kicks off Saturday night with a Black and Gold Gala Banquet at 7 p.m. at the Cultural Center. Reverend Dr. Reginald Broadnax will be the guest speaker, discussing this year’s theme of “Citizenship and Service in Action.” A banquet will follow his speech. Those attending will also have the opportunity to participate in a social hour. Foster said music and entertainment will be provided.
On Sunday, Jan. 18, a worship service will be held at 4 p.m. at the Cultural Center. The service will include guest speaker Dr. Michael Isaac, singing and special youth performances.
On Monday, Jan. 19, the celebration will continue with a community breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the Cultural Center. Dr. George Creed is expected to give a speech during the meal. All are welcome to attend.
Following the breakfast, several Lincoln county children and young adults will be presenting a Youth Variety Show for the public. According to Foster, the show will consist of singing and dancing performances as well as speeches and presentations. Shrondra Patterson will be the guest speaker for the show.
“It’s an opportunity for kids from the different schools and churches to meet and interact with each other,” Foster said.
The variety show is expected to begin at 11 a.m. at the Cultural Center.
The last portion of the celebration begins that afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Members of the North Lincoln High School Band will lead the crowd in a march to Lincolnton’s Court Square.
Foster said hundreds of people have participated in the celebration over the years.
“We’re constantly working to get more and more people involved,” Foster said. “Although Dr. King has passed, the very things he worked for are still ongoing issues in society. The Coalition of Churches and the NAACP try to come together and make the program more diverse by inviting people of all races together as brothers and sisters. It’s a celebration for all mankind working together for the needs of all mankind.”
Foster believes that unity and understanding are vital components for combating these societal conflicts. Furthermore, she feels that in order to successfully work through any situation, one should do so through nonviolent means.
“The more unity you have…of people coming together to fight causes, the better people will be in understanding the needs of one another,” she said.
Those interested in learning more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Program should contact Event Planner Rev. Stephen Wingate at (704) 435-0300.