Annual MLK march set for Monday

The We Care Committee of Tullahoma is once again organizing a celebration of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year’s commemoration will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, starting at the C.D. Stamps Community Center. In keeping with tradition, the group will march from the community center to city hall and back. Leading the songs during last year’s march was Tommy Williams, center.

In celebration and remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., marchers will again take to the streets on Monday, Jan. 21, to honor King’s legacy, and the public is invited to join them.

The annual march, sponsored by the We Care Committee and several area churches, has been held every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the last decade or so in order to honor the life and legacy of King, according to We Care Committee President Paul Cooley.

“It’s in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” Cooley said. “We just want to pay tribute [to him]. He helped change some attitudes about people that would have the same privileges as others.”

The morning’s events will begin at 8:30 a.m. inside C.D. Stamps Community Center on South Jackson Street and will kick off with a remembrance march through town.

The march begins at C.D. Stamps and moves along South Jackson Street up to city hall, where a small prayer service is held. Once prayers and comments have been made, the group will trek back to C.D. Stamps where a continental breakfast will be offered at 9:30 a.m., according to Cooley.

Following the breakfast will be a 10 a.m. prayer and praise session. The morning will round out with a remembrance service with a featured speaker at 11 a.m., Cooley said.

Last year’s march saw scores of people walk along South Jackson Street in remembrance – the largest crowd Cooley had ever seen.

The increased participation was encouraging to Cooley, who said that more people seem to be aware of social inequalities and are more willing to step and help their fellow man.

“I believe this march represents a willingness to do more as far as those people that are in need,” he said. “It’s a calling for some type of service in our community.”

The morning will also serve as a drop-off point for a number of local organizations that help those in need.

Boxes for food items and cleaning supplies will be set up inside C.D. Stamps, and all are encouraged to bring those supplies with them on Monday morning.

“We’re mainly looking at food items and cleaning products … those type things that you use every day,” Cooley said.

A Blood Assurance mobile center will also be available that morning to accept blood donations, according to a flier for the event.

The We Care Committee is a small, local organization that supports charities for the needy. It was formed about 20 years ago in response to a child in the community being killed on the south side of Tullahoma, according to Cooley.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January each year. It honors the late civil rights leader’s birthday – Jan. 15. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000. Tennessee has recognized the federal holiday since 1989, along with 44 other states. South Carolina and Utah were the last states to officially recognize the day by its official name.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.