The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day hosted by the city of Gary was different this year. As spirit filled as always, this year, the service on January 21 was held at the New Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. In past years Gary’s West Side Leadership Academy has been the celebration venue.
The change was in keeping with Dr. King’s philosophy, said keynote speaker, Reverend Regan E. Robinson of St. John Baptist. “We shifted from having a program, to being at church.”
The house of worship was packed as the ecumenical service began with a Catholic priest delivering a stinging criticism of the current administration. Throughout the service speakers paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader who was assassinated in Memphis in April 1968.
During his invocation, Father Pat Gaza prayed, “Answer me, oh Lord, my God. Help us see the vision of Dr. King is still your will, and non-violence is still the way to effect change.”
The service was attended by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, U.S. Representative Peter Visclosky and state Senator Eddie Melton, all of whom spoke in tribute to Dr. King.
The Gary Community School Corp’s new Emergency Manager Pete Morikis delivered remarks, noting that he believes in listening to all the school corporation’s stakeholders … students, parents and the community. “Our threads are common,” he said. “We want our schools to improve and we’ll do anything we can to help.”
An important highlight of the day’s celebration was the awarding of cash to students for their King Day essays. A high school junior at West Side, Brittany Sanders, took top honors receiving a $1,000 prize.
Other services honoring Dr. King were held throughout Northwest Indiana.
In addition to the city of Gary’s tribute, the Morning Bishop Theatre Playhouse in Gary hosted A Day of Service at the Lake Street Theatre.
IU Northwest held a King Day celebration on its campus in Gary and will host a three event Black History Month program in February.
Purdue University Northwest honored the life and legacy of Dr. King on its Westville and Hammond campuses.
For its King Day celebration Valparaiso University featured a keynote address by Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. Glaude is the chair of the Center for African American Studies at Valparaiso University.
The Hammond community held a candlelight march commemorating the life of Dr. King.
Approximately 80 attorneys from various Northwest Indiana bar associations provided brief legal services at no charge to the public at eight locations on the Martin Luther King holiday.