Folks from across the Ohio Valley will come together to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. over the next several days. There will be a variety of ceremonies, marches, and more for people to attend for the annual day of remembrance, which this year falls on Jan. 16. The below events take place before and on the day throughout the Wheeling area. 

Shabbat Service – Friday, Jan. 13

MLK weekend kicks off with a special Shabbat service at Temple Shalom, located at 23 Bethany Pike at 7 p.m. The service will feature acclaimed American Tenor Edward Washington II. 

Washington was born in England raised in Saudi Arabia and lives in New York City. He studied voice at Stetson University and then attended Morgan State University for his Master’s degree. Edward soloed in concert with the United States Air Force Band, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Morgan State University Choir, and the American Spiritual Ensemble. He was a featured vocalist twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

This performance is funded by the Temple Shalom congregants.

MLK March – Sunday, Jan. 15

The annual MLK March organized by the Wheeling MLK Committee will begin at 2:15 p.m. at The Windmill on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This march will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and remember the civil rights leader’s work in advancing equality and justice for all. The march is an opportunity for people to come together, celebrate diversity, and show their support for the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.

MLK and Rosa Parks Awards and Banquet – Sunday, Jan. 15

Following the march, the MLK and Rosa Parks Awards presentation will be held at 3:15 p.m. at West Virginia Northern Community College’s B&O Auditorium, located at 1704 Market Street.

Sheila McGhee and Becky Shilling-Rodocker have been selected to receive the Rosa Parks Award, while Charaun “CJ” Goodwin and Jerry Moore, Sr. will receive the Martin Luther King Award. These awards are presented by the MLK Celebration Committee in recognition of their tireless efforts to reduce racial inequity and promote peace and harmony. Additionally, Bishop Darrell W. Cummings will be honored for his outstanding leadership, service, and dedication to realizing Dr. King’s vision in the community.

Immediately following the awards ceremony, a community banquet will be held in the college’s Multipurpose Room, located at 10 17th Street. A $5 donation is suggested to help cover the costs of the meal. 

Interfaith Worship Service – Sunday, Jan. 15

The Macedonia Baptist Church will host an interfaith worship service at 6 p.m., located at 105 12th Street. The service will include several clergy and community members from across Wheeling and the surrounding area. Musical selections will be performed by Voices of Praise of The Macedonia Baptist Church, Tree of Life, and Edward Washington II.

MLK Awards Breakfast and Children’s Program – Monday, Jan. 16

On Monday, the MLK Awards Breakfast will begin at 9 a.m. at the Laughlin Memorial Chapel, located at 129 18th Street where local students will be recognized for their contributions to the MLK essay, music and video contests. More than 20 students from across the Ohio Valley received awards through this contest that prompted them to create artwork that embodies that spirit of Dr. King.

The event with conclude with special programming for children ages 5 – 12 that honor Dr. King and his legacy. This program is sponsored by the Wheeling chapter of the NAACP.

The annual Wheeling Area Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is spearheaded by the Wheeling Area Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

“We are excited to see the legacy of Dr. King celebrated all weekend long,” said Ron Scott, committee chair and cultural diversity and community outreach director at YWCA Wheeling. “The celebration continues to grow every year and I’m looking forward to see it all come together.”

The MLK committee is supported by several community sponsors, including Bethlehem Apostolic Temple, Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley, Wheeling First Christian Church, NAACP Wheeling Chapter, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, The Seeing Hand Association, Wayman A.M.E. Church, West Virginia Northern Community College, Wheeling University, YWCA Wheeling, Frank Calabrese, The Congregation of St. Joseph, Macedonia Baptist Church, St. Michael Parish, Temple Shalom, West Liberty University, Wheeling Human Rights Commission, and The Windmill. 

Learn more about this year’s celebration by visiting the Wheeling MLK Celebration Facebook page

• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.

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