MLK Day Celebration planned at City Hall
The city of Reynoldsburg will celebrate Martin Luther King Day with music and speakers to follow the theme "Continuing the Dream: Moving Forward."
The celebration will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at Reynoldsburg City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.
Organizer Bruce Sowell said the keynote speaker will be the Rev. G. Thomas Turner Sr. from the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
Reynoldsburg High School student Aliya Smith will be given the Keeper of the Dream award for her volunteer work and Ronnie Horad, formerly the lead guitar player and vocalist for the Ohio Players, will perform with his band, Shining.
"We will also have a Martin Luther King Jr. video playing as well," Sowell said. "It will be a dynamite celebration."
Sowell said the city should not only celebrate King's birthday but the diversity of a nation.
"After the re-election of the 44th president of the United States, we are looking at a true changing of the guard," he said. "The fact the president was able to rally and win the popular and electoral vote says that our country is changing -- that the dream is becoming a reality and we are moving forward as a nation."
Sowell noted that Reynoldsburg played a big part in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
"Reynoldsburg was a major stop on the Underground Railroad," he said. "There was a house that got torn down at the corner of Graham Road and Main Street, where the shopping center is, that was one of the stops."
According to Reynoldsburg Historical Society research by Cornelia Parkinson, fugitive slaves traveling north from the Ohio River were sent from Columbus to the David Graham House, 1312 Epworth Ave., or to a cave off Main Street near Waggoner Road. Other stops on the Underground Railroad were the Old Primitive Baptist Church on South Jackson Avenue and the Alexander W. Livingston seed farm at the Livingston House on Graham Road.
Livingston's employee, Benjamin Patterson, used Livingston's long wagon, known as "The Ark," to transport fugitives to the next Underground Railroad station in Granville, Utica or Mount Vernon, on their way to Lake Erie and Canada.
"This town has played a major part in history," Sowell said. "I want to remind people that we were a part of this community before it started and to tell my son or my daughter that one day, they can serve their community.
"We want people to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and his message that we all have to get along," he said. "Our country and our cities are becoming more diverse. This is a Unity Day because it is an event that is free and that everyone in the community can celebrate."
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister who became a civil rights activist and helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His civil rights efforts led to the 1963 march on Washington, D.C., where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Martin Luther King Day celebrates his birthday. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis.