For the last 25 years or so, members of the Leavenworth community have gathered in one of the city’s churches to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The birthday of the civil rights leader from Atlanta was actually Tuesday, though the national observance of the occasion is Monday. King, a Baptist minister, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work toward attaining equal rights for African-Americans. He co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, helped lead the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, at the time working to fight poverty.
Bobbie Flucas, a member of St. James CME Church in Leavenworth, said the church has been hosting a free, public celebration of King’s life and legacy for about the last quarter of a century, shortly after his birthday was declared a national holiday in 1986. She said the service, scheduled this year for 6 p.m. Monday at the church, 621 Pennsylvania Ave. in Leavenworth, typically draws church and civic leaders, and other residents, from around the city.
“I think it needs to be kept alive,” she said of King’s message.
This year, the Rev. Warren Freeman, pastor of Bethel AME Church, will be the guest speaker. The event will feature music by Quiet Fire and other groups. Flucas said the service emphasizes not necessarily King himself, but rather what his life’s work represented.
“We’re celebrating the goodness of God shown through him,” she said.
Fort Leavenworth’s Combined Arms Center-Training and TRADOC Capability Manager Virtual will host a separate observation of King’s birthday beginning at 11:30 a.m. today at the Frontier Conference Center, with a luncheon featuring guest speaker Meredith Kidd, the dean of students at Washburn University in Topeka.