Wheeling Jesuit University and community partners are gearing up to host a number of events Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Jan. 17-18.
New this year will be a panel discussion hosted by WJU’s Black Student Union called, “Are We Keeping the Promise?” The discussion will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18 inside the National Technology Transfer Center Auditorium (NTTC), located on Wheeling Jesuit’s main campus.
“We have been proud to hold this celebration for 19 years in the city of Wheeling. Snow, cold, rain or shine, people will have shared to express their gratitude for Dr. King,” said Blake Williams, MLK committee co-chair.
The weekend celebration begins at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17 with the annual MLK Day Interfaith March for Peace and Freedom. Participates are asked to gather at the top of Wheeling Hill by the windmill, where they will walk to the bottom. The march will end by the Fourth Street United Methodist Church – located at 1060 Chapline St., Wheeling.
Participants can park at the bottom of Wheeling Hill, near the YMCA at the corner of 10th and Chapline streets. A shuttle will take people to the top of the hill to begin the walk. Transportation will also be leaving from Wheeling Jesuit University’s Swint Circle at 12:30 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m., Sunday, the Interfaith Gathering for Freedom will be held at the Fourth Street United Methodist Church. Those gathered will hear reflections on the rights Dr. King fought for as a civil rights activist. Following the service at 2 p.m., a community meal will be held at the church, where a $3 donation per person is requested.
Sunday’s activities will conclude at 4 p.m. with a community worship service at the Wayman AME Church, 1136 Eoff St., Wheeling. The program will be presented by the Upper Ohio Valley Ministerial Alliance. Special honors will be given to those in Wheeling who are continuing the work of Dr. King and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
All children’s educational activities Monday, Jan. 19 will take place at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, located at 129 – 18th St., Wheeling. The day begins with a 9 a.m. breakfast for school-age children.
“We are still in need of volunteers to help on Monday morning. We always have enjoyed spending extra time with our youth this day, and without volunteers, this would not happen,” said Rev. Daniel Mason, program director of Laughlin Chapel.
At 10 a.m., winners of the annual MLK Day Essay Contest will read their work aloud.
This year, the YWCA Wheeling received more than 500 essays. “It is a pleasure to work with educators across the state and hear their positive reactions to the contest,” said Rita Gupta, coordinator of the 2016 Project on Racism Essay Contest.
The 2016 Project on Racism Essay Contest is based on the following quote from Dr. King’s “A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations” delivered on April 10, 1957 at a St. Louis Freedom Rally.
2016 essay winners include:
Ava Hanson, St. Michael School
Deuce Figaretti, Wheeling Country Day
Brooklynn Shea Wayt, Wheeling Country Day
Veda Wheeler, Bridge Street Middle
Madison Morgan, Triadelphia Middle
Hailey Lewis, Triadelphia Middle
Topanga Jones, Parkersburg High
Cole Berletch, Bishop Donahue
Madison Flowers, Philip Barbour High
Following the essay contest presentations at education activities are planned for children at10:30 a.m., followed by lunch at Noon.
Finally, at 7 p.m. the panel discussion titled, “Are We Keeping the Promise?” will take place at Wheeling Jesuit University’s NTTC Auditorium.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration committee is made up of members from businesses, churches, community organizations, local government and educational Upper Ohio Valley Ministerial Alliance, Fourth Street United Methodist Church, Temple Shalom, St. Michael Parish, Wayman AME Church, West Liberty University Campus Ministry and the YWCA.