The plan to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.with an annual holiday was almost as controversial as his truncated life. Senators, most notably North Carolina's Jesse Helms, opposed the concept. "What about Abraham Lincoln Day? What about the high financial costs?" detractors wondered. Kansas Sen. Bob Dole made a succinct response to the critics: "I suggest they hurry back to their pocket calculators and estimate the cost of 300 years of slavery, followed by a century or more of economic, political, and social exclusion and discrimination." In 1983, fifteen years after Dr. King's death, President Ronald Reagan made the holiday legal. There are varied ways to observe Dr. King's spirit this week, ranging from religious ceremonies to block parties.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel struck up a friendship with Dr. King at a turbulent time in our nation's history. To commemorate their spiritual kinship, Rabbi Rebecca Lillian will lead a special Shabbat service featuring an interfaith choir at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 14. Marvin Dunn, author of Black Miami in the Twentieth Century, will lead a bus tour of local civil rights sites on Sunday, January 16. Highlights will include visits to Fort Dallas, the Miami pioneer cemetery, Overtown, Lemon City, and Little Haiti. Both of these events will take place at Temple Beth Or (11715 SW 87th Ave.); the tour will leave at 9:00 a.m. Call 305-235-1419 or visit www.bethormiami.com.
On Friday, January 14, a candlelight service will be held at 6:00 p.m. at Northwestern High School (1100 NW 71st St.) by the children of Martin Luther King Elementary School. A commemoration will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 16, at the Church of the Incarnation (1835 NW 54 St.). On Monday, January 17, a celebration will kick into high gear at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 27th Avenue with a parade of community members and high school marching bands starting at 11:00 a.m. Then, MLK Park (6160 NW 32nd Ave.) will be transformed into party central. Stop by the MDX booth; free SunPasses are available to those who qualify. Musical stages from 99 Jamz (WEDR-FM 99.1), Hot 105 (WHQT-FM 105.1), and gospel station WMBM-AM (1490) set a festive tone.