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Community organizations to host MLK Day events centered around young voices



Photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. Courtesy of Unsplash.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities will hold several events to recognize the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The holiday honors King's life work as a minister and leader in the civil rights movement.  

Greear Webb, a UNC student and the chief of staff and director of social justice at SIDEKICKS Academy, said the civil rights movement of the 1960s never truly ended. 

"We see many of the same issues that Black and brown Americans in the '60s faced, today," he said.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP event

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP will be hosting its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at First Baptist Church on Monday, Jan. 16 at 11 a.m. 

Lee Moavenzadeh, the co-chairperson of the Religious Affairs Committee at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, said she hopes people will be called to participate in the day and feel inspired to build "a more just Chapel Hill." 

“We always use the observance of Reverend King's birthday as a time to just kind of center ourselves and remind ourselves of why we do this work and the ultimately moral nature of the work,” Moavenzadeh said.

The theme of this year's celebration is “A New Set of Voices for a New Day in the Movement,” featuring two choirs and Webb as the keynote speaker. Moavenzadeh said the organization wants to especially center the event around young voices. 

Webb said King has always been an inspiration to him, and is honored — especially as a young person — to deliver a speech on a day that commemorates King's legacy. 

Webb said he will include the theme of the day in his speech by talking about the younger generation.

“I think that (the theme) really ties into what I talked about often and what I've tried to work toward, and that is young people — especially young people of color — taking up the mantle and continuing the legacy of the civil rights movement of the '60s of fostering positive change in our communities and being those young leaders that our world really needs,” he said. 

Webb also said that King’s legacy is important to remember as people of color in America are still facing issues they faced in the 1960s.

"I think young people are really fed up with the chaos and confusion and want peace, equity, and I think it's important that we all do what we can to work toward those goals," he said. “I think there's a real chance right now in our nation to continue to compassionately challenge people to be better, to recognize the biases within themselves and in their communities, in their workplaces.”

Town of Carrboro event

The Town of Carrboro will also be hosting an event to honor King on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m., in Century Hall at Carrboro Century Center. The event is organized and planned by three local youth groups including the Carrboro Youth Council, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council.

Galen Poythress, a recreation supervisor for the Town of Carrboro, said he and a couple of other supervisors oversee the process, but ultimately, the event is entirely the work of the youth groups.

This year, Poythress said the youth councils decided King would want people to talk with one another much like a fellowship, instead of sitting down and listening for two hours.

“The first 45 minutes of this event, we want people to show up and talk and hang out and talk about life and interact with each other, so we're going to have some slides on the screen and some music,” Poythress said. “We're gonna have student artwork there as well for people to look at.”

He said there will also be trivia and speakers to continue the celebration. The speakers include local cartoonist Keith Knight, civil rights historian Danita Mason-Hogans, Carrboro Town Council member Barbara Foushee and Nevaeh Hodge, a youth member.


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