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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Breakfast kicks off daylong celebration Monday

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A full slate of activities in Columbus is planned for Monday, Jan. 21, to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The day kicks off at 7 a.m. with the 28th annual breakfast, to be held in the Battelle Grand ballroom in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High St.

The keynote speaker is the Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, N.J.

Bert Castle, executive director of the breakfast, said about 3,000 people are expected to attend, which is anticipated to be less that previous years because the event coincides with the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Nevertheless, it promises to be a powerful lineup, Castle said.

"It's an exciting experience," he said. "It's a burst of multicultural groups. Behind the breakfast is a host of volunteers and volunteers are golden in that they provide their time, energy and expertise in supporting the breakfast."

Cost is $35 per individual and $350 for a table of 10. More information is available at mlkjrbreakfast.com.

Following the breakfast, an open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the King Arts Complex, 867 Mt. Vernon Ave. on the Near East Side.

President Obama's inauguration will be broadcast in the center's Pythian Theater.

Participants will have an opportunity to participate in the "Marching On" art project, where children and adults will design and paint a shoe to exhibit in the corridor of the complex.

Officials with the facility invite people to bring a non-perishable food item, to be donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

"It's a big signature event not only for the King Arts Complex, but for the city," said Toni Johnson, marketing and membership director for center.

"We expect a very, very large crowd," she said.

Meanwhile, gathering for the ceremonial march begins at 4 p.m. at Columbus City Hall, 90 W. Broad St.

The march, commemorating King's historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, will begin at 4:45 p.m. and proceed west on Broad Street to the Franklin County Veterans Memorial, 300 W. Broad St.

Doors at Veterans Memorial open at 5 p.m. Attractions include a three-act historical remembrance written by student interns from Ohio State University and live performances from BalletMet Columbus, the Jazz Arts Academy and a 150-voice youth choir.

Napoleon Bell, executive director of the Columbus Community Relations Commission, stresses festivities are open to everyone in the Greater Columbus region.

"We have such a large, diverse population in the city," he said, "and, I think that adds to the celebration.

"When you look out at the crowd, it's not homogenous, it's diverse," Bell said. "People get it: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was there for the rights of all."

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