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Originally published: 2014-01-14 18:48:53
Last modified: 2014-01-14 18:50:28


by Allison Haver

On Monday, Jan. 20, Americans from diverse backgrounds and communities will celebrate the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who dedicated his life to ending racism and all forms of discrimination.

In the coming week, the Watauga community will continue its own traditions of valuing diversity and service in honor of King's legacy. Numerous "I Have a Dream" events are planned to take place at Appalachian State University and throughout Boone Jan. 19 to 26.  These events are part of a resolution that dates back to 1992.

When the Ku Klux Klan marched through downtown Boone and Blowing Rock that year, the Baha'i community did not answer with hate, but instead organized a Unity Festival, which worked to focus the attention on racial and cultural unity, drawing 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.

Although "unity" events were held again in 1993 and 1994, no large-scale unity events were held until 1998, when many of the organizers formed the I Have a Dream Task Force. The task force organized an annual "I Have a Dream Week" to correspond with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January.
Now, 22 years after Watauga County's first "Unity Week," the festival has grown into multiple events, including the popular Unity Festival in spring and another that coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day - "I Have a Dream Week."

This year's events include the 15th annual MLK challenge on Monday Jan. 20. ASU students, faculty, staff and community members work together on community service projects. Registration for this year's challenge is full, but a wait list is available at the Appalachian and the Community Together website,

The 17th annual Musical Unity Service is also at 7 p.m. on Monday. The service will feature the Julaluska Gospel Choir. From Tuesday to Saturday the Watauga Public Library will host an open craft table making "I Have a Dream" Catchers, inspired by Native American Dreamcatchers.

Award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer Solded O'Brien will speak about diversity as part of the 30th annual MLK Commemoration at the Schaeffer Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Jan. 21. Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is free and open to the public.

On Sunday, Jan. 26, a chamber music concert celebrating cultural diversity with music from England to India will be held at St. Luke's Episcopal Church at 3 p.m.

Regular admission is $10, $5 for full-time students and children younger than 12 are admitted free. For more information or to make a reservation call (828) 264-1384.

I Have a Dream Events

Jan. 19   
"Reflections on the Beloved Community" presented by Rev. Tommy Brown, Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 11 a.m., (828) 264-4456

Jan. 19    
"Anger and Justice" presented by the Rev. Nancy Sehested, High Country United Church, Vilas, 11 a.m., (828) 297-1092

Jan. 20    
MLK Challenge, Legends, ASU, 8 a.m., (828) 262-2193

Jan. 20    
Music Unity Service, Mabel Methodist Church, 7 p.m., (828) 297-3568

Jan. 21    MLK Commemoration with Soledad O'Brien, Schaefer Center, ASU, 7 p.m. (828) 262-6158

Jan. 21- 25   
Multicultural Craft Project, Watauga Public Library, Boone, (828) 264-8784

Jan. 22   
Candlelight Vigil for Prisoners of Conscience Worldwide, Sponsored by the Baha'ís of Watauga, Ashe and Avery, 297 Cherry Dr., Boone, (828) 264-2297

Jan. 26   
"Seeking Unity in Our Colliding Worlds" presented by Rev. Nancy Sehested, High Country United Church, Vilas, 11 a.m., (828) 297-1092

Jan. 26    
"A Musical Feast," St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Boone, 3 p.m., $10 admission; $5 for full-time students, (828) 264-1384