As a city that has been at the forefront of civil rights activities for decades, Nashvillians will come out today for a variety of events to both celebrate the life and honor the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
One of the key celebrations is the annual citywide march down Jefferson Street to Tennessee State University where a convocation will be held at noon to celebrate the life and legacy of King.
The MLK March to convocation will leave Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church at 11:30 a.m. this morning and march to TSU Gentry Center where the Rev. Kelly Miller Smith Jr., whose father was a civil right leader, will serve as the keynote speaker.
Additional groups will join the march at the following locations: Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, 1014 14th Ave. N.; First Baptist Church East Nashville, 601 Main St.; Greater Bethel AME Church, 1300 South St.; Lee Chapel AME Church, 1732 Scovel St.; Pearl-Cohn Magnet High School, 904 26th Ave. N.; Ted Rhodes Golf Course, 1901 Ed Temple Blvd.; Mount Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, 36 Fairfield Ave.; and Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1112 Jefferson St.
Since 1994, when Congress initiated the King Day of Service, the federal holiday has been transformed from not just a day of remembrance but to a national day of community service. It was the hope that this would help use Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings of nonviolence and social justice to make a positive impact on the community.
Hands On Nashville will hold MLK Day volunteer projects across the city including “Art to the Rescue,” an art service project at the Nashville Rescue Mission.
Mayor Karl Dean with join more than 80 Hands On Nashville volunteers to help paint four inspirational murals on the walls of the homeless facility. Artist Anthony Billups, who created the murals, will also be on hand for the celebration.
Other Hands On Nashville projects will help Second Harvest Food Bank, Thriftsmart and Hope Lodge.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) encouraged not just Tennesseans, but all Americans to come together and be a “beacon to the world and carry on Dr. King’s tireless mission.”
“It is appropriate that the federal holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has become a day of service. Dr. King sought not only to create racial equality but also to relieve injustice and to provide hope for those who were hurting,” said Corker. “This year as we remember the life of Dr. King, I think of the many Americans who are in Haiti providing service to our neighbors who are in such tremendous need.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is attending the ninth annual breakfast celebration of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 8 a.m. this morning at Sambuca Restaurant, 601 12th Avenue South. Civil rights activist Ernest Rip Patton will deliver the keynote address at the breakfast.
“I think of our country as a work in progress toward great goals,” Alexander said. “Dr. King’s birthday reminds me of the hot August day in 1963 when I stood at the back of a huge crowd on the Washington Mall listening to Dr. King speak of his dream that one day his children would not be judged ‘by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ His birthday reminds us that, while we still have much progress to make, we have also made remarkable progress since that day.”