Community to celebrate MLK

Fort Smith leaders plan events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

The events will begin with an ecumenical service led by Taneka Tate, Principal of Carnell Elementary. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at St. James Missionary Baptist Church.

This will be followed by breakfast from 8.30am to 9.30am Monday at Stubblefield Arena.

Masks will be required and officials will take people’s temperatures at the door, said John Blue, executive director of diversity equity and inclusion at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Immediately after breakfast, participants will take part in a march from the arena to the bell tower. In turn, Pastor Jackie Flake will speak on the topic of living a misfit life, a sentiment taken from one of King’s speeches.

“So for Dr. King, Dr. King, took that sociological term, and he basically expressed it in reference to living unsuited to the current ills of society at the time, at the time dealing with racism, social injustices, dealing with economic issues and disparities and all of those things, so for us to take that same theme, living a maladjusted life, is basically challenging people not to adapt or not to give in to what is a typical current situation,” Flake said.

The march will replace the annual parade in honor of the king. Talicia Richardson, a member of the Celebrate the Dream team, said the group chose to organize a walk to better involve the community.

“It involves anyone who chooses to participate without being officially associated with an organization per se,” Richardson said.

Any additional breakfast food will be donated to the Riverview Hope Campus.

The university will also host two debates. On Wednesday, Bente Eriksen, executive director of the Literacy Council of Western Arkansas, will speak at noon at the Campus Center fireplace. On Friday, Joey Potts, the director of the Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit, will speak at noon at the Campus Center fireplace.

Blue said the university also has two readers. The first, which collects school supplies for children at Carnell Elementary, began Monday and will end Jan. 21. The second, which collects peanut butter for the River Valley Food Bank, began Wednesday and ends Jan. 20.

For those looking to leave campus, Antioch for Youth & Family is asking volunteers to serve on Martin Luther King Jr.

Alex Gladden graduated from the University of Arkansas. She previously worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Jonesboro Sun before joining The Times Record. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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