CRESTVIEW — The city will celebrate civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with a couple of events this month.
The Carver-Hill Memorial and Historical Society on Sunday will present a birthday celebration and panel discussion at 5 p.m. at New Life Missionary Baptist Church.
Seven representatives from local organizations ranging in different political backgrounds will comprise the panel.
"Instead of just having one guest speaker, we wanted to spice things up," said Pastor Sanford Hayes, event organizer.
Representatives from local Republican, Democratic and Tea Party organizations will be part of the discussion. Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris also is expected to take part in the discussion.
A representative from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, and a student from the Northwest Florida African American Student Association also will be in the panel.
"We try to get the perspectives from the many points of view," Hayes said. "Okaloosa County is a great place to live," Hayes said. The county is trying to live as one nation, which was the goal of Martin Luther King Jr."
The discussion — which the Rev. Jerry Jones, associate minister of Mercy Seat Ministries in Fort Walton Beach, will facilitate — will focus on Okaloosa’s future job opportunities and population growth effects.
A Martin Luther King Jr. parade on Jan. 19 will begin at 9:45 a.m. on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Lloyd Street. It will end at the Crestview Courthouse.
Anyone who wants to march may do so, organizers said. Participants are known to sing inspirational songs like "We shall Overcome."
In addition, parade participants will hold signs and banners commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.
"We typically get around two hundred people that participate," said Catherine Dortch, 81, president of the Concerned Citizens Group of Crestview.
King, a clergyman and activist who used civil disobedience in the 1960s to advance civil rights, received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.
"He did a lot of things for us," Dortch said. "He believed we shouldn't be judged by the color of our skin, but by our character."
When the parade finishes at the courthouse, attendees may stay for a program featuring guest speaker Adrienne McKinnie, a businessperson and member of the Crestview Kiwanis club and the Carver-Hill Memorial and Historical Society.
"I plan to speak about how far we have come (as a nation) and to expand on the legacy that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has already established." McKinnie said.
Mayor David Cadle is expected to deliver a proclamation for the event.
Want to go?
"Living the Legacy,” a panel discussion, is at 5 p.m. Sunday at New Life Missionary Baptist Church, 285 Duggan Ave.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade will begin at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 19 on the corner of Lloyd Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
Black history lecture: 10:30 a.m. Feb. 5, Crestview Public Library. George Stakley will discuss the Carver-Hill School and Museum’s history. Coffee and cookies are served at 10 a.m. Call 682-4432 for details.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.