The youth department of First Missionary Baptist Church, located at 413 W. Seventh St. in Metropolis, will observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 16.

This year’s theme is “Where Do We Go From Here?”

The public is invited.

Harvey Baxter, a deputy with the Massac County Sheriff’s Department, will speak.

During the program, a collection will be taken up. Donations are earmarked for the church’s scholarship fund, which are used to assist members with post secondary educational needs.

Refreshments will be served in the church’s Family Life Center prior to the program.

First Missionary Baptist has held the observance for over 40 years “to honor the contributions and sacrifices of Dr. King in the struggle for civil and human rights,” said Rev. Dr. Orlando McReynolds, Th.D., the church’s pastor.

“I deem the annual observance important because we are living in a time when we see voter suppression and other civil rights that Dr. King lived, worked and died for at risk and threatened by a faction that seeks to find ‘greatness’ in America by taking the nation backwards to an era void of civil and human rights,” he continued “So, in the climate of our times, when the ‘soul of America’ is being put to the test, we must never forget that, as Jesus taught and showed what the world should be, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught and showed what America should be.”

McReynolds said this year’s theme, “Where Do We Go From Here?” was the title of one of King’s speeches. It was chosen due to the “state of affairs in the nation, post the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.”

King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. A campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination on April 4, 1968.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law as a holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, with its first observance in 1986. It is observed on the third Monday of January, near the time of King’s birthday, which was Jan. 15, 1929.

In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many offices and schools will be closed Monday, Jan. 17. Among those closing will be banks; county, city and state offices; post offices; and schools. Trash service will not be delayed.

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