Suburban events draw ever larger, diverse crowds

The life and message of Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated by many suburban communities, groups and organizations through song, dance and the reading of essays.

The celebrations got underway Sunday in Raytown, which held its annual multi-cultural celebration at Raytown High School. This was the 16th year for the event aimed at promoting peace and reconciliation in the spirit of King.

The suburban celebrations began as small gatherings, but have flourished over the years and now draw larger diverse crowds.

“Just as the Mardi Gras in New Orleans has its series of parades, Kansas City has its series of celebrations, one after the other, from Lee’s Summit to Liberty, from Bonner Springs to Blue Springs and that is a great thing,” said the Rev. Robert Hill, senior pastor of Community Christian Church.

Other suburban celebrations continue this week and next.

Johnson County

• The Johnson County King Committee Inc. and the Johnson County NAACP will hold their 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Community Program beginning with displays at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The program will at Blue Valley West High School, 16200 Antioch Road in Overland Park.

Leo E. Morton, chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a Henry Bloch Human Relations Award recipient, will be the guest speaker.

The theme is “The Dream— We are on the Way” and will focus on the progress that African Americans have made. Children from Jack and Jill of America will perform a stepping routine.

The program is free and open to the public.

• The Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Scholarship Awards Committee, along with the Olathe Branch of the NAACP, will hold their ninth annual awards dinner starting with a social at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 21.

The event, with dinner at 6 p.m. and program at 7, will be at the Overland Park Marriott Hotel, 10800 Metcalf Ave.

The awards committee is giving its Legacy Award to James B. Nutter, president of James B. Nutter Co. The program will also feature student essay scholarship winners reading their writings honoring King’s legacy.

The cost is $75. To make a reservation, call 816-920-7774 and mail a check to the Martin Luther King Legacy and Scholarship Awards Committee at P.O. Box 270691, Kansas City, MO 64127.

Kansas City

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Commission will hold its 11th annual celebration at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne Ave.

The theme this year: “The Success of Our Journey Begins with the First Step!”

The Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III will be the reflection speaker. Christopher Barksdale, a retired principal dancer and teacher with the Kansas City Ballet, will perform. Students from the Kansas City Metropolitan Dance Theater will perform before the program at 6:20 p.m.

The program is co-sponsored by the Connections Committee of Beta Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. The committee will hold a “Beacon of Hope” food drive.

Admission is free, but people are encouraged to bring a canned good or non-perishable item for the food drive.

Kansas City, Kan.

The annual Kansas City, Kan., Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 21 at the Jack Reardon Civic Center, at North Fifth Street and Minnesota Avenue.

The Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., pastor of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Cincinnati, will address the theme “Spreading the Commitment for The Dream Worldwide; for Justice, for Brotherhood and for Peace.”

Pre-program activities will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Prior to the celebration, a Motorcade/March for hunger will gather at 9 a.m. and depart at 10 a.m. from Mt. Zion Baptist Church at North Fifth Street and Richmond Avenue.

The motorcade will wind its way through the community and arrive at the Civic Center in time for the celebration, which is free and open to the public.


William Jewell College will host the Northland’s 29th annual celebration at 1 p.m. Jan. 21 in the John Gano Memorial Chapel on campus, 500 College Hill in Liberty.

The speaker will be radio talk show host, author and retired educator Carl Boyd. He is founder of “The Generation Rap” on KPRS-FM (103), a talk show for teens.

The William Jewell College Concert Choir and The Kansas City Heritage Dance Group will perform. A tribute to King will be presented by William Jewell students Chriska Francois and Edward Scott.

A public reception follows at the Yates-Gill College Union. The program is free and open to the public.

Lee’s Summit

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Planning Committee and city’s Human Relations Commission will hold a community-wide celebration at 6 p.m. Jan. 21.

The free event will be at The Pavilion at John Knox Village, 520 N.W. Murray Road, with the theme “The Time Is Always Right to Do Right.”

Expect performances by the Lee’s Summit Diversity Choir, Kiddie Kollege Primary School, Lee’s Summit High School’s Jazz Band and Drumline, Lee’s Summit West High School and the Lee’s Summit North High School Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard.


Independence will celebrate King’s legacy at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Truman Memorial Building, 416 E. Maple Ave.

This year’s celebration focuses on the theme of “The Struggle Continues.”

The program, “Dr. King Speaks Through Our Young People,” will feature the Chris Kelly Praise Dancers.

This is the 26th anniversary of the event, which is sponsored by the city, The Community of Concerned Citizens, Local Investment Commission, the Human Relations Commission, Ministerial Alliance and The Examiner.


MidAmerica Nazarene University’s 7th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration will be at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 22, at the College Church of the Nazarene, 2020 E. Sheridan.

The public is invited to the free event.

Chris Powers, coordinator for diversity and cultural competency at the university, will present a message titled “Lessons from the Mountaintop.”

The Rev. Alice Piggee-Wallack, founder and director of True Light Family Resource Center in midtown Kansas City, will receive the university’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Living Legacy Award.