Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. told a crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., about his dream of equality for all people, and this weekend, committees in Medford and Ashland will hold events to honor the man and his dream. The activities will include live entertainment and reflect the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." King's famous quote is the theme for the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at North Medford High School, 1900 N. Keene Way Drive.
"We thought this would be a great (quote) to bring to the public attention," says Steve Sobhi, an event organizer. "It shows how decisions made locally can affect people at a more global scale."
DJ Gemineye from Kiss 107.5 will emcee the event and the keynote speech will be by Geneva Craig of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.
Born in segregated Alabama, Craig became active in the civil rights movement and saw King during his visits to Selma's Brown Chapel and Green Street churches.
The event includes performances by the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, Ashland Danceworks songwriter Gene Burnett and poet T Poe. VIBES Charter School students will read King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Event organizers will present this year's "I Have a Dream" award to Unete, a volunteer-led movement of farmworkers and immigrants in rural Southern Oregon, and Kate Baxsted, former executive director for Disability Advocacy for Social and Independent Living.
Donations of nonperishable foods, personal hygiene supplies and winter clothing and blankets will be accepted.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," King said during his "Keep Moving From This Mountain" speech in 1965. The quote provides the inspiration for the 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration in Ashland, set for noon Monday, Jan. 20, in the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St.
D.L. Richardson will return as the master of ceremonies and Kayse Jama of the Center for Intercultural Organizing will deliver the keynote address.
The theme for Ashland's event is "1964-2014: Fifty Years of Striving Toward Freedom and Justice — a Work in Progress."
Jama, born to a nomad family in Somalia, found sanctuary in Portland after civil war broke out in his country. A founder of CIO, he trained immigrant and refugee community leaders from 2005 through 2007 under the New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center in Portland.
"It's important for us to gather as a community to inform ourselves of where we are, remind ourselves of where we'd like to be, and inspire ourselves to get there," says Claudia Alick, a leader of the planning committee for the Ashland celebration.
This year's program will include performances by Ashland Danceworks, Rogue Valley Peace Choir and members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Admission is free. Donations of nonperishable food items for the Ashland Food Project or winter clothing for the Maslow Project will be accepted.
The doors open at 11:30 a.m. A livestream of the event will be shown at Standing Stone Brewery, 101 Oak St., Ashland, and can be seen online at www.ashlandhome.us.
A march to the Ashland Plaza, where King's "I Have a Dream" speech will be broadcast, will follow the program.
The day's events will continue at 7:30 p.m. with a free musical tribute at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall.
Chicago-based Axiom Brass will perform David Sampson's "Morning Music" and George Walker's "Music for Brass: Sacred and Profane," with readings of King's speeches and letters by former Oregon poet laureate Lawson Inada interspersed throughout.