Although there are no planned events in the Gardner, Edgerton or Spring Hill communities, area residents need go no farther than Olathe to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s at the “Love Illuminates Life” event.
The public is invited to join the Olathe Human Relations Commission (OHRC) to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 17. The annual Martin Luther King (MLK) Celebration will be held from 3 – 5 p.m. at the new Olathe Conference Center by Embassy Suites, located at K-10 and Ridgeview Rd. The event is free and open to the public.
Ryan M. Jones, museum educator and lead tour guide for the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, will deliver the keynote address titled “Love Illuminates Light.” Dr. Alveda King, niece of the famed civil rights leader, will provide a special pre-recorded message for the event. King serves as director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life. During the Civil Rights Movement led by her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alveda King’s family home was bombed in Birmingham, Ala. She was also jailed during the open housing movement.
Olathe’s MLK Celebration has grown over the last 16 years to become one of Olathe’s most acclaimed events, celebrating and embracing diversity in the community and schools. The MLK Celebration encourages Olathe students of all ages to promote a society free of bullying, discrimination, and maltreatment of others based on race, gender, or religious beliefs. The goal of the Olathe Human Relations Commission annual celebration is to increase positive awareness, foster greater understanding, and embrace the diverse populations that make up the fabric of our community.
This year’s Olathe MLK Celebration features essay, visual arts, and mixed media awards for local students. More than 4,272 students submitted entries, representing nine Olathe middle schools and four high schools. All contest winners will receive cash prizes and the top three high school winners will earn a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum. Select students will read personal essays exploring the event theme and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, “Love Illuminates Life.” Entries will be on display for public viewing at the event. Following the celebration, entries will be on display at the downtown Olathe Public Library through the end of January. The event will also mark the debut of OHRC’s MLK Celebration Choir, comprised of Olathe Public Schools high school students and community members.