The 7th Annual Martin Luther King Day Noon Ecumenical Observance will be held Monday, Jan. 19, at noon in the Ruston Civic Center.
This service follows the annual Martin Luther King Unity March and parade that will start at 11 a.m. at Louisiana Tech's Thomas Assembly Center, where marchers will meet at 10:45 a.m.
The march and parade will proceed east on Alabama, north on Monroe and to the south entrance of the Ruston Civic Center. Those who wish to participate in the second leg of the march can join at Homer and Alabama streets, two blocks from the civic center.
The Rev. Kenneth Sapp, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Clay, will be the keynote speaker.
This community-wide service will include students and faculty from Grambling State, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe universities, and residents from Ruston, Grambling, Lincoln Parish and the surrounding area.
"The timing of this event celebrating King's ‘dream' has particular meaning because it comes the day before the first African American will be sworn in as president of the United States," said Adam Collins, chairman of the MLK Ecumenical Observance planning committee and coordinator of multicultural affairs at Tech. "What can better signify the ideals that Martin Luther King stood for than to remember King on the eve of the inauguration of Barack Obama?"
Collins said Sapp's message will address the theme for this year's event, "The reality of the dream," embodies that concept.
"It was somewhat of a tentative theme when a student committee member suggested it in our October meeting, in the midst of the presidential campaign," Collins said. "The theme took on a different meaning when the committee met the week following the election of Barack Obama."
Music will be provided by the Rainbow Covenant Community Choir, a group comprising singers from the area coming together just for this event. Organized and coordinated by Lindelle Turner Weaver, the choir is accompanied by members of the South Parkway Church band with area musicians.
The service will continue a tradition in which a different church choir director directs a song on the program. A free jambalaya lunch will be served.
"Support for this event has grown tremendously and grew out of our first MLK Unity March in 1992," Collins said. "In 2002, we started the ecumenical service. It grows each year. We are getting both financial and in-kind support from several businesses and organizations."
Buses will be available to bring participants back to campus from the civic center immediately following the hour-long service.