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The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Task forces that include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon will share resources and talent to bring celebrations honoring Martin Luther King Jr. to Medford and Ashland.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations will feature talks by John Dolan, a civil rights activist who was a member of the Freedom Riders. The Freedom Riders were groups of African Americans and whites who in 1961 boarded interstate public transportation in Washington, D.C., to ride into the segregated South. The Freedom Riders drew national attention to the Southern states' laws that enforced segregation in public transportation.

During his talks, Dolan will discuss the Jim Crow laws that mandated segregation and how he got involved with the civil rights movement as an undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley.

Nick Morales will talk about his experiences as a Latino student at the celebrations.

Buck World One, a hip hop theater group from Los Angeles, will perform at both locations.

Buck World One was developed by Rickerby Hinds, a playwright and associate professor of playwriting at the University of California at Riverside.

Buck World One uses a mix of krump dancing, spoken word and video projections to tell stories of the human condition in harsh realities. Hinds discovered young people krump dancing at a church in L.A. They were using the dance style as a form of competition, with heightened moments of arm and chest movements known as buck moves. Hinds saw the new form of break dancing as an opportunity for good theater.

Krump dancing addresses themes such as violence in communities and police brutality, and it is an outlet for young people in harsh environments to express themselves through dance movements rather than violence.

Buck World One was featured last summer at OSF's outdoor Green Shows. Claudia Alick, producer of the Green Shows and a producer of Ashland's MLK celebration, will present "street poetry" at Medford MLK event.

The seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Medford will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, in the auditorium at South Medford High School, 815 S. Oakdale Ave. Freedom Riders is the theme for this year's event, which will include music, dance and art to celebrate the principles of peace and equal rights.

The Medford Martin Luther King Task Force also will present its first annual "I Have a Dream" Award to west Medford residents for their positive responses to the hate crimes that took place in May 2008 in the area. The award is intended to become a tradition for future celebrations.

Following the program, there will be light refreshments and opportunities to meet the speakers and performers in the SMHS cafeteria.

Sponsors of the Medford celebration include Muchas Gracias Mexican Food, Harry and David, Rogue Community College, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon.

Ashland residents may ride the Freedom Bus, a free, round-trip bus ride to the Medford event. It will board at 1:15 p.m. Sunday at Safeway on Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland. Saxophone player Ken Heyward and bass player Richard Meyer of the jazz band Living on Dreams will lead bus riders in gospel songs such as "Oh Happy Day" and other tunes.

The 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Ashland will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St.

The theme of the Ashland MLK celebration is "Transformational Leadership: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King." Keynote speaker will be Hinds.

In keeping with the tradition of a community celebration, students from the Ashland School District and Southern Oregon University, along with OSF actors and community groups, will present songs, dances and dramatic performances.

Each year, seating for the Ashland event reaches standing room only. The event will be simultaneously broadcast at Oregon Stage Works, 191 A St.

The Ashland event is sponsored by the Ashland School District, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the city of Ashland, Jefferson Public Radio and SOU and produced by volunteers.

Admission to the Ashland and Medford MLK celebrations is free. Visitors are encouraged to bring donations to Rogue Valley food banks.

Buck World One, a Los Angeles-based group, will perform at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in Medford and Ashland. - Oregon Shakespeare Festival