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MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Local NAACP hosts Martin Luther King Jr. virtual event Jan. 18

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With a theme of “Then and Now,” the Doña Ana County chapter of the NAACP will present a Martin Luther King, Jr. virtual event beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, said branch President Bobbie Green, Ph.D.

There is no charge to attend the virtual breakfast. To register, visit www.naacpdac.org or send an email to info@naacpdac.org.

The event will include a 45-minute speech King delivered in April 1961 that offers powerful insights into 2020-21, Green said. The presentation also will include a panel discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement, the murder of George Floyd and other local and national events in 2020 that impacted civil rights.

The panel will be hosted by former Doña Ana County Manager Julia T. Brown and will include new Third Judicial District Attorney Gerald Byers, New Mexico’s first African American DA; new state Senator Harold Pope, Jr., D-Bernalillo, New Mexico’s first African American state senator; Martin Luther King State Commission Executive Director Leonard Waites; and Las Cruces City Councilor Johana Bencomo.

Proclamations about Martin Luther King and the virtual event will be read by Mayor Ken Miyagishima for the City of Las Cruces and an official from Doña Ana County representing the county commission.

“The Doña Ana County NAACP is thrilled to hold an event on MLK Day 2021 that gives the public a unique opportunity to hear from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his own words -- and what powerful words they are,” Green said. “Dr. King was an incredible orator. He was also a visionary. It’s as if Dr. King had a crystal ball and was able to see into the future. We need the wisdom of Dr. King today, just as it was needed 60 years ago in 1961. As Dr. King stated, ‘It is not enough to struggle for the new society. We must make sure we make the psychological adjustment required to live in that new society.’ I’m optimistic that the new society is imminent, but as Dr. King says in his speech, ‘realism impels us to admit that we have a long, long way to go.’  This was true in 1961, and it is still true in 2021.”

Martin Luther King: 1929-68

Baptist minister and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 91 on Jan. 15, 2021. King was born Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

King led the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama where, on Dec. 5, 1955, Rosa Parks, a black woman, was arrested for refusing to give her seat on a bus to a white person. The boycott lasted Dec. 5, 1955-Dec. 20, 1956.

King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, during which he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971. The holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.