December 20, 2014
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Celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend and Monday

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the celebration of the African-American civil rights activist. To commemorate the man whose famous words, “I have a dream,” still resonate today, several groups are hosting events throughout the state.

Alpha Kappa Alpha, an international sorority started by African American women in 1908, will hold a fair at the center court of Warwick Mall on Sunday. Locally, the sorority is present in local schools like Brown and URI.

Joi Whitehead, the chairman for Theta Psi Omega, the Rhode Island Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said the fair is a way to honor and reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Called the “Share the Dream” Empowerment Fair, the purpose of the event is to provide information and services to those in need. Whitehead said their core focus is on veterans, active duty military and their families, but will also provide information for the unemployed or underemployed, and small and minority business owners. Whitehead said they’ll have booths set up at center court near Pinkberry with information on job opportunities, health care and much more. The booths will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, and there will be a speaking program at 1 to kick off the event.

The program will include Bernie Beaudreau, executive director of Serve Rhode Island; Miss Black Rhode Island 2013 Amber Clark; and a performance by the Rhode Island Black Storytellers. Dr. Donald Cunningham, a professor from the University of Rhode Island, will give a keynote speech.

In addition to the booths and presentation, there will also be a fundraiser going on throughout the day at the Warwick Mall Pinkberry. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., those who use special coupons available at the “Share the Dream” Empowerment Fair can donate 20 percent of their purchase to Operation Stand Down, a non-profit organization that aids low-income and homeless veterans.

Though the event is targeted at certain groups, Whitehead said it is open to all.

“We’re really very inclusive,” she said. “It’s meant to draw everybody.”

The RI Civil Rights Roundtable will also host an event Sunday: their annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration. The event will be held at the Roots Cultural Center at 276 Westminster Street in Providence, formerly the Black Rep Theater. The theme this year is, "Dr. King's Legacy: Civil Rights & Nonviolence. Then and Now." There will be a keynote speech by imam Farid Ansari, president of the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement. There will also be refreshments, music and a birthday cake. The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, contact Dr. Tobey Ayers at 467-1717 ext. 102 or ricj@ricj.org.

On Monday, the Minister's Alliance of Rhode Island will hold the 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship breakfast at 8 a.m. Rev. Dr. Kirk Byron Jones will be the featured speaker at the event, which will be held at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet.

Also on Monday, the Providence Children’s Museum will host a performance of “M.L.K.: Amazing Grace.” Three performers will portray various Civil Rights activists in a show crafted for school age children. There will be performances at 11:30 a.m., 1 and 4 p.m.

From 12 to 4 p.m., visitors can explore an exhibit of photographs, text and books about the American Civil Rights Movement. Visitors can also choose to take part in an interactive component, where they wear colored tags and encounter exhibits labeled “red only” or “green only.”

“While we marvel that race relations in our country have come so far in our lifetimes,” said Children’s Museum Executive Director Janice O’Donnell in a statement, “We also believe that our children need to understand the struggle that led to this day, and to understand that racism is still something we must confront and work to eradicate. There have been great gains and there is more to be done.”


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