It has been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said those famous words, “I have a dream.”On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Toledo community will gather at the University to honor his vision of equality in a “Defending the Dream” Unity Celebration.
The 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration will be Monday, Jan. 20, at 9 a.m. in Savage Arena on the UT Main Campus.
“Dr. King’s iconic address about unity, equality, freedom and justice would change the course of this great nation,” UT President Lloyd Jacobs said. “I believe it is the role of great universities like The University of Toledo to ensure the dream is within reach for all today and as the spirit of Dr. King’s life lives on into the future.”
“‘Defending the Dream’ is an appropriate theme to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 50th anniversary of this historic speech; we as a nation and as a city have not succeeded in making all of Dr. King’s dream come true,” Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said. “We have made progress, but we still have work to do to be able to ‘transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.’ I believe the different parts of the orchestra are in tune, they are expert in their own scores, but it will require more effort on all of our parts to obtain that beautiful symphony, one that we long to hear in our lifetime.”
The 2014 Unity Celebration will feature remarks by Toledo NAACP President Ray Wood, in addition to Jacobs and Collins.
The Toledo Interfaith Mass Choir, Toledo Community Youth Choir and the MADD Poet Society will perform, and the 2014 MLK Scholarship recipients will be recognized.
Kristian Brown, 13 ABC reporter and anchor, and Tony Rios Jr., founder and executive producer of Tony Rios Enterprises Inc. Hispanic broadcast media and entertainment agency, will emcee the event.
WGTE Public Television will broadcast the free, public event, which will conclude by 10:30 a.m. A free community luncheon will follow the ceremony.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a canned good that will be donated to the MLK Kitchen for the Poor, 650 Vance St. in downtown Toledo.
Leading up to the celebration, a number of events will be held at UT as part of Unity Week, which will begin Monday, Jan. 13, at noon with a Unity Week rally. The documentary “Freedom Riders” will be shown Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in Student Union Room 2591, and the Unity Lock-In will take place Thursday, Jan. 16, from 6 to 11 p.m.
The Unity Celebration is organized by a committee with co-chairs Dr. Shanda Gore, UT associate vice president of equity, diversity and community engagement, and Rosalinda Contreraz-Harris, executive director of the Toledo Youth Commission.