Honor the memory, live the dream
by Anna Oakes
As the nation collectively honors the legacy of peace and equality of Martin Luther King Jr., the Boone community continues its own traditions valuing diversity and service in the coming week.
Multiple "I Have a Dream" events are planned at Appalachian State University and throughout Boone Jan. 20 to 27 -- an effort that dates back to 1992.
That year, in response to a KKK march planned in Boone and Blowing Rock, the Baha'i community organized a Unity Festival to focus attention on racial and cultural unity and to draw attention away from the KKK. The festival became part of a weeklong series of events sponsored by area churches, organizations, individuals and ASU students that attracted about 1,300 participants, a history published by ASU states.
"Unity" events were held again in 1993 and 1994. In 1998, many of the organizers formed the I Have a Dream Task Force, which organized an annual "I Have a Dream Week" to correspond with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January. In 2006, the Unity Festival joined the yearly Diversity Celebration held at ASU in April, but "I Have a Dream" events in January have continued.
In recent years, the task force has disbanded, but "I Have a Dream" lives on.
"The task force itself no longer exists, but the tradition of these celebrations appears to have taken firm hold in this community," said Mary Gray, a task force member. "It is a tribute to this community's commitment to the vision of Dr. King's dream."
"In 1992," Gray noted, "when interviewed after their marches through Boone and Blowing Rock, the KKK said they would be back. They have not come back."
This year's events include the annual MLK Challenge on Monday, Jan. 21. ASU students and community members join forces to complete multiple community service projects with the motto "a day on, not a day off." Call the Appalachian & Community Together office at (828) 262-2193 to participate.
Also on Monday is the 16th annual Musical Unity Service at 7 p.m. at Mabel Methodist Church on Old U.S. 421, featuring the Junaluska Gospel Choir. From Tuesday to Saturday, stop by the open craft table celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream at the Watauga Public Library.
Poet, playwright and civil rights activist Maya Angelou will speak about the civil rights movement in the United States and the legacy of Dr. King as part of the 29th annual MLK Commemoration at ASU's Holmes Convocation Center Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, a celebration of diversity in music and poetry with flutist Akal Dev Sharonne and friends will be held at 3 p.m. at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
Many different cultures and traditions will be represented with music from Germany, France, Brazil, Hungary and India. Judaism, Christianity, Sufism and Native American spirituality will also be honored, and the poetry of Rumi, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Oriah Mountain Dreamer, along with other lesser known poets, will be read.
A $10 donation is requested to cover costs. Seating is limited, and reservations are recommended by calling (828) 264-1384.