The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration in Lewisburg on Monday, Jan. 15, will begin at 11 a.m. and consist of a march from the Greenbrier County Courthouse to Lewisburg United Methodist for a community lunch, followed at 12:30 p.m. by a program in the sanctuary. The keynote speaker for the program will be Mark Hickman who is a 1975 graduate of Greenbrier East High School and now a resident of White Sulphur Springs. He retired in 2019 from West Chester University near Philadelphia where he taught in the Department of Communication Studies and then in the University Honors College.
While on the faculty, Hickman developed the university’s minor in Leadership Studies and revamped the University Honors College admissions process to increase minority enrollment tenfold. Trained in Communication and Social Change, Hickman specialized in teaching in the areas of Public Discourse and Decision-Making, Social Movement Rhetoric, Political Communication, and Leadership Development.
While at the University he served as President of the Honors Council, Director of Forensics (Speech and Debate), and he was a recipient of the West Chester University Legacy of Leadership Award.
As part of his commitment to leadership through service to promote positive change he spent several years leading groups of students to South Africa to conduct needs assessments and secure resources for children whose parents had died from AIDS.
Gathering at the courthouse for the march at 11 a.m. will be occurring at exactly the same time as the beginning of MLK Holiday DC Peace Walk along MLK Avenue in our nation’s capital. It’s a day of unity across the nation for helping in the struggle for civil rights and the promotion of harmony among all people.
Before the march starts, Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White will read her proclamation of the beginning of Martin Luther King, Jr. Week, and Pastor Kathie Holland of the New Vision Baptist Church will provide the invocation. During the march up Washington Street Chris Winston will lead the singing of “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” one of the great freedom songs of the civil rights movement. As the people pass City Hall, the lyrics ringing out will be “I’m gonna keep on a-walking, keep on a-talking. Marching up to freedom land.”
The free community lunch in the fellowship hall at the church will allow people to keep on a-talking before the program which will begin with the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the welcome to the church by Rev Bev Columbo. More music will be provided by soloist Nevaeh Traynham whose singing was a highlight of the WV State NAACP Convention in Lewisburg in August of this year.
Even more music will come from the many voices of the Resurrection Praise Community Choir with singers from Greenbrier and other nearby counties. They were so well received last year that their return is a must. High Rocks will deliver a performance of their own recent creation. They will also be helping with other duties before and during the event.
Kayla Reed will present the winners of the Middle School MLK Essay Contest who will read their essays based on Dr. King’s words: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
The Elementary School MLK Art Contest winners will also be announced, and their art will be on display at the church. Their art will have been inspired by Dr. King’s words: “I have decided to stick with love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Mark Hickman’s speech will then be featured as the highlight of the event.
Donations to support the event will be collected while the lunch and program are in progress or by mail to MLK Day Committee c/o CYAC, 112 Courtney Drive, Lewisburg, WV 24901.