Wheeling’s long-standing annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. returns this weekend to honor the late Dr. King and his legacy within the community. The 2024 Celebration is open to the public and features events such as an MLK march, worship services, The Project on Racism Contest, a food drive, special guests, and the honoring of various award recipients. The weeklong series of events kicked off on Tuesday, January 9 at the Ohio County Public Library and featured Cory Campanizzi discussing Dr. Kings “Creative Maladjustment Revisited: Emerging Practices in the Psychology of Sustainability and Environmental Justice”.
Every year, local residents of Wheeling, WV are chosen to be honored with either the Martin Luther King Award or the Rose Parks Award. This year, the 2024 recipients of the Martin Luther King Award, are Wheeling residents Rod Lee and Rabbi Joshua Lief. The recipients of this year’s Rosa Parks Award are Teddie Grogan and Martha Wright. The locals will receive their awards on Sunday, January 14, with Mr. Lee and Ms. Grogan receiving theirs at the MLK dinner at 3 p.m. at West Virginia Northern Community College. Rabbi Lief and Ms. Wright will receive their awards later in the day at 6 p.m. during the Interfaith celebration at Wayman A.M.E Church.
The second event of the week will begin at 7 p.m. at Temple Shalom, 23 Bethany Pike, Wheeling. Temple Shalom is home to the oldest Jewish Community in West Virginia, with their congregation being founded in 1849, predating West Virginia’s Statehood. The service, like all events held this week, is open to everyone in the community.
Saturday, Jan. 13 – Student and Community Dialogue
At 1 p.m., dialogue amongst local college students and employees will be held at West Virginia Northern Community College in the B&O Auditorium, at 1704 Market St., Wheeling. The Ohio Valley Festival for Filmmakers of Color is also being held on Saturday at 7 p.m. at WVNCC in the B&O Auditorium.
Sunday, Jan. 14 – MLK March, MLK and Rosa Parks Award, Interfaith Worship Service
Sunday features the most events of the celebration, with the first being the MLK March beginning at 2:15 p.m. The march will begin at the Windmill atop MLK Boulevard, and transportation will be offered to the windmill from WVNCC. However, for those driving themselves to the event, parking can be found near the march endpoint at the Federal Building, at 1125 Chapline Street.
At 3:00 p.m., the Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks Award presentation will begin and Mr. Lee and Ms. Grogan will be honored during this time. The presentation will be held at WVNCC in the B&O Auditorium, at 1704 Market St., Wheeling. Immediately following the awards presentation, there will be a Community Banquet at WVNCC in the Multi-Purpose Room, at 1017th Street. A $5 donation is recommended.
At 6 p.m. there will be an Interfaith Worship Service and the Special Award Presentation where Rabbi Lief and Ms. Wright will be presented with awards. The event will be held at Wayman A.M.E church, at 1136 Eoff St., Wheeling. Local clergy participating in the service include Host Pastor: Rev. Yvette Taylor (Wayman AME), Master of Ceremonies: Rev. Marshall Davis (Macedonia Baptist Church), and Guest Preacher: Judge Terri Jamison. Judge Jamison is from Welsch, WV and has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and a minor in Human Resources Management, cum lade, from Franklin University as well as a Juris Doctor of Jurisprudence from Capital University Law School.
Other participating clergy include Rev. Marcia Allen (Mt. Zion Baptist Church), Rabbi Joshua Lief (Temple Shalom), Elder Melvin Williams (Church of God & Saints of Christ), Rev. Kenneth Hardway (First Christian Church), Bishop Darnell Cummings (Bethlehem Apostolic), Bishop Mark Brennan (Wheeling-Charleston Diocese), Rev. Joshua Saxe (St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church), District Elder James M. Agnew II (Tree of Life), Rev. Ted Dodd (Covenant Community Church).
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During the evening events, there will be a food collection for House of the Carpenter, which is a Christ-centered charity affiliated with the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. They have various ministries that support and empower the community such as their food, clothing, and utility ministry as well as programs for adults, youth, and children. House of the Carpenter is accepting canned goods and other non-perishable items for their collection.
There will also be a Special Honoring of Octogenarians, which will recognize elder members of the black community in their eighties who witnessed firsthand how events such as the Civil Rights act and Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court affected Wheeling.
Monday, January 15 – MLK Award Breakfast, MLK Contest Winners Award, Special Children Program
The Martin Luther King Awards Breakfast will be held at 9 a.m. at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, at 129 18th St., Wheeling. At 10:30 a.m. there will be a special programming for children ages 5–12 in honor of Dr. King at the same location. The winners of the Project on Racism Contest will also be awarded Monday morning. The Project on Racism Contest was presented by the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission and the YWCA Wheeling. Entries were accepted for essays, music, and five-minute films and the contest was open to any student from grades 1-12 attending a public, private, parochial or home school in West Virginia.
All entries must have focused on the following quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Students submitted their work under one of the following categories: Essays, Music, or Film. Local award recipients for each category are listed below.
Essay Award Recipients:
1st Place : Brantley Myers, Bethlehem Elementary School, 5th Grade
2nd Place: Miles Rockey, Triadelphia Middle School, 7th Grade
3rd Place: Jaxson Updegraff, Bridge Street Middle School, 8th Grade
Five Minute Film Award Recipients:
Wheeling Central Catholic High School:Braxton Billick (11th Grade), Wyatt Brady, (10th Grade), Kaitlin Brodegard (10th Grade), Jake Brown (9th Grade), Aaron Chapman (12th Grade), Thomas Cottrill (12th Grade), Lucca Ferrera (12th Grade), Caleb Golden (10th Grade), Tylique Marshall (10th Grade), Isaac Martin (10th Grade), Keyuri Morgan (10th Grade), Michael Steiniger (10th Grade), Luke Tiu (11th Grade), Lilly Whitelatch (9th Grade), Miss Carpino (Faculty), Allen Chip Jones (Faculty), Mrs. Michelle Thorngate (Teacher).
This weeklong celebration of Dr. King’s life is open to all in the community and recognizes the lasting effect that the minister, political philosopher, and activist had on America at large and local communities like Wheeling. Residents of Wheeling are encouraged to attend any or all of the events throughout the week to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr’s history and meet local residents who have been affected by Dr. King’s legacy. Flyers with event information can be found online at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, Wheeling, WV Facebook page.
• Anna Griffith is a Senior majoring in English Rhetoric and Writing with a double minor in Creative Writing and Marketing. She is a founding member of Threshold and was the Public Relations Manager during her Sophomore and Junior year. She is continuing her PR position during her Senior year in addition to being Editor-in-Chief. After graduation, Anna hopes to attend a master’s program and eventually work in publishing or as a librarian.