MLK celebration set for Monday morning at Bethel AME Church

The Rev. Minnie Smith
Posted: Jan. 19, 2013 3:24 pm Updated: Feb. 2, 2013 7:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Quincy will come together Monday to honor the memory and celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.

The 10 a.m. service will be held at Bethel AME Church, 905 Oak.

Numerous civic leaders will take part in the service that will highlight the legacy of King, who was considered the face of the civil rights movement that changed U.S. history in the 1950s and 1960s.

One local officials scheduled to be on hand is Mayor John Spring.

"It's always an honor to be involved in the day we celebrate Dr. King," Spring said. "A way to celebrate his life is to remember what he said about serving your community, to do something good. That doesn't have to be a big project, maybe just doing something nice for one person.

"This is a day to put aside all of our differences and do things right."

King was assassinated 45 years ago in Memphis, Tenn., at age 39. He was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state laws.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination. The measure was endorsed in 1976 after support from musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with 6 million signatures.

The Rev. Minnie Smith of Willow Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Hannibal, Mo., will deliver the keynote address during the program at Bethel. Smith will talk about how "We Need Unity in Our Communities."

"Rev. Smith has been active in all expressions of the Christian church for many years," said Annice Mallory of the Quincy chapter of the NAACP, which is coordinating Monday's service. "In addition to her current pastorate at Willow Street Christian Church, she serves as the Northeast Area moderator and is an active member of the Northeast PRAR (Pro-reconciliation/Anti-Racism) team."

President Ronald Reagan signed the act for the holiday honoring King in 1983, and it was first observed in January 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday, giving it other names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

The Missionary Society of Bethel AME will sponsor a soup kitchen after the program. The menu will consist of chili or chicken noodle soup with the choice of a peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwich and drink for $5.