MLK celebration set for Sunday

ELKINS — The Elkins Cultural Awareness and Enrichment Group will host its annual celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday.

The traditional march begins at 3:45 p.m. at the Jennings Randolph Federal Building and will head toward Woodford Memorial United Methodist Church for an afternoon of music, dance, children’s activities, guest speakers and a community potluck dinner to end the evening.

The local event has been taking place for more than 20 years.

“The person who would know for sure is Melvin Marks and he’s up in his 90s,” said Jane Birdsong, an organizer for the event.

“We’ve just tried to keep (the event) going since he and his twin sister Mabel Marks were some of the first people to organize it,” she continued. “They were from the Riverside Association and I’m not sure if it’s still viable but it was formed to try and save the Riverside School. which was the black school in Elkins on River Street.”

The event took place at the Old Brick Playhouse for several years before moving to the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA and then to its current location at the Woodford Memorial Church, where it’s been for the last four years.

“We just like to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. because he made a lot of positive changes in our country,” said Birdsong. “He is worth remembering and, of course, we have a holiday designated every year in January near his birthday, but I’m not sure this town actually recognizes it other than giving people the day off of school.”

The theme for this year’s event is “Eyes on the Prize,” and Rev. Martin White from Pittsburgh and Sam Petsonk, a candidate for West Virginia attorney general, will speak about how to fight civil injustices within your community.

“(Petsonk) is going to talk about what people in Elkins can do if they see or if their own rights are being abused,” said Birdsong. “Because he’s running for attorney general and he’s an attorney in Charleston, he’s familiar with the human rights commission.”

“Hopefully there will be some new people who haven’t come before,” said Birdsong. “We always have new people moving into town. It’s a chance to meet those new people where you might not meet them in another setting. It’s a chance to get to know the other people in your community.”

There will also be songs of solidarity by Michael and Carrie Kline and dance performances by Axis Dance Group and D&E Adjunct Dance Professor Laurie Goux.

For more information about the event, contact Jane Birdsong at 304-636-8195 or Ann Laurence at 304-636-5278.