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March kicks off Martin Luther King Jr. events

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday March, sponsored by the MLK Jr. State Commission, will kick off this year’s events honoring the late civil rights leader.

The march, which begins at 11 a.m. today, will originate at University and MLK Avenue on the University of New Mexico campus and proceed west to Civic Plaza, where there will be a program of speakers, including Mayor Tim Keller and other elected and community leaders.

On Monday, which is King’s birthday, two annual events will highlight scholarships for college – the 22nd MLK Commemorative Breakfast, and the 28th MLK Multicultural Celebration and Keep the Dream Alive awards ceremony that afternoon.

Next Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19-20, the second annual MLK Jr. Indoor Track Invitational will take place at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Sponsored by UNM and the city Parks and Recreation Department, the event draws athletes from 35 colleges and universities throughout the country. Information on competing in the meet can be found online at

The MLK Commemorative Breakfast honors the life and ideals of King, including the creation of a fair, equitable and inclusive society, self-examination of our humanity, and the importance of love, nonviolent activism and shared community.

The event is being sponsored by the Grant Chapel AME Church and will begin at 8 a.m. at the Marriott Pyramid North Hotel.

The program includes the presentation of nine scholarships to high school seniors ranging from $500 to $2,500 awarded on the basis of essays submitted detailing how King’s ideals influenced their own aspirations for the future. In addition, musical selections will be performed by a citywide choir.

Pamelya Herndon, executive director of Southwest Women’s Law Center and backup host of the KUNM gospel music program “Train to Glory,” will serve as master of ceremonies. Vincent Baty, prominent musician and producer in the Albuquerque gospel music world, will direct the choir.

The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Dr. R. B. Holmes, a community activist and pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, a 144-year-old church in Tallahassee, Fla., with more than 6,500 members and 35 active ministries. Holmes will speak on keeping King’s dream alive.

The MLK Multicultural Celebration and Keep the Dream Alive awards program will be held at Congregation Albert starting at 1 p.m. Sponsored by the MLK Multicultural Council, the program features the awarding of $1,000 scholarships to each of 33 high school seniors. (See story and photos on the winners in the Monday Journal.) The recipients were selected based on essays they wrote explaining how King’s principles impacted their lives.

Cross-cultural musical presentations will be offered by young people, and the Keep the Dream Alive award recipients will be honored.

This year, those recipients are Pastor John Hill, executive director of Steelbridge, formerly the Albuquerque Rescue Mission, and Dr. Susanne B. Brown, a local pediatrician and member of the Police Oversight Board.

The awards are given to people for their outstanding work in the community and for doing that work according to the principles of King.

Hill, who has a background in mechanical engineering and business, worked for 22 years combined for Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 1988, he became a founder and pastor of God’s Way Ministries in Albuquerque and remains its senior pastor.

In 1992, he founded the nonprofit Hands of Transition to help people transitioning out of the prison system deal with addictions, lack of life skills and broken family relationships. That same year, he also established Rite-Way Janitorial Services to provide jobs for people with employment challenges.

In May 2005, Hill became president and chief executive officer of the Albuquerque Rescue Mission, now called Steelbridge.

Brown attended Ohio State University and then Case Western Reserve for medical school. She served with the Indian Health Service in Tuba City, Ariz., and staffed a rural hospital in Haiti for the government of Haiti.

Brown has a private medical practice in Albuquerque, specializing in pediatrics, and she serves on the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in the Departments of Pediatrics and Family Medicine.

She has also served on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and on the boards of New Mexico Voices for Children, Peanut Butter and Jelly Family Services and the Albuquerque Community Foundation. She is on the boards of Healthcare for the Homeless and the Police Oversight Board.



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