Sabion Lewis, center, with the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plain, sings during the opening of the 26th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. (Dylan Ray photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached love and acceptance, and even after his assassination 51 years ago, people continue working to make Dr. King’s dream of equality a reality.

The MLK Celebration Committee will honor Dr. King’s life during a birthday celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. This will be the 27th year the celebration has been observed, and MLK Celebration Committee Treasurer Barbara Hill said the event has only grown over the years.

“Everyone wants to continue to remember Dr. Martin Luther King and what he did for all people,” Ms. Hill said. “We don’t want his dream to die. We want people to remember all the sacrifices that he and all the people helping him made.”

Morehead City sponsored the first celebration in 1993 in the council’s meeting room at the municipal building over the police station. The celebration was founded by former Morehead City Mayor the late Rev. William Horton.

Since its first year, the celebration has grown to include the participation of different churches, civic organizations and individual volunteers.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed the third Monday in January. The civil rights activist was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga.

The keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony will be Bishop Donald Crooms with Faith Tabernacle of Praise.

Ms. Hill said she hoped Bishop Crooms’ speech will look at some of the finer points of Dr. King’s life.

“I feel that he (Bishop Crooms) is going to try to encourage us to do better and be more cooperative and try to keep the legacy alive for his (Dr. King’s) dream,” Ms. Hill said.

As well as the keynote address, the celebration includes the opening song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Negro National Anthem.

The program will follow the same agenda as it did in past years, including live music and a lunch served by members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plain after the celebration has finished.

Dr. King was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist who had a large affect on race relations in the U.S. beginning in the mid-1950s.

His activism helped end legal segregation and herald the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968.

The MLK Celebration Committee is open to all members of the public and accepts new members to join its planning committee.

Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 223; email; or follow on Twitter @megansoultCCNT.

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