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March, sports, scholarships mark MLK holiday

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech Aug. 28, 1963, before thousands of civil rights supporters in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C. Events honoring King will be held in Albuquerque on Saturday and Monday, which is the national holiday. (Associated Press)

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech Aug. 28, 1963, before thousands of civil rights supporters in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C. Events honoring King will be held in Albuquerque on Saturday and Monday, which is the national holiday.  (Associated Press)

After 28 years, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Council is taking a one-year hiatus from its annual MLK celebration and scholarships program to give the organization additional time to switch to an online system for high school students to apply and submit their essays on which the scholarships are based.

However the Grant Chapel AME Church will be awarding 11 scholarships ranging from $250 to $2,500 to high school students at its annual MLK Commemorative Breakfast.

Joycelyn Pegues Jackson, president of the MLK Multicultural Council, said that “we plan to spend this year updating our technology, expanding our outreach and rebuilding our organization.”

In the past, the council has awarded scholarships to students who write the best 500-word essays on civil rights, diversity and community pride. The scholarship program is an ideal way for students to “learn about the process of applying for scholarships,” Jackson said, as well as get students “to think about Dr. King’s work and his philosophy.”

Last year, the MLK Multicultural Council received applications from 350 students from all over the state and awarded $1,000 scholarships to 33 of them. The awards have been presented yearly during a multi-cultural celebration held at Albuquerque’s Congregation Albert.

The board of directors of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Council has been responsible for screening the applicants and reading the essays.

“It was extremely time-consuming. All our board members are volunteers and they all work, so we decided to modernize and update the process, and put everything online,” she said.

There are currently six people on the board. “We are recruiting and want to increase that to 10, and expect the scholarship program to be back up and running by 2020,” Jackson said.

While King’s actual birthday is Jan. 15, a 1992 proclamation signed by former President George H.W. Bush designated the third Monday in January each year as a national holiday to honor the slain civil rights leader, which this year is Jan. 21.

Here are some of the planned commemorations:

March, ceremony, sports

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission will sponsor the annual MLK March and Commemorative Ceremony, and the Track and Field Open, both on Saturday.

The MLK March/Parade will start at 10 a.m., with participants meeting at the intersection of University and MLK Boulevard NE, and marching west to Civic Plaza, where a commemoration ceremony will be held featuring speakers, youth vocal and dance performances, and more. Last year, more than 1,000 people participated, including state and local dignitaries, youth groups, churches, civic organizations, sororities and fraternities, immigrant organizations, nonprofit organizations, corporations and families.

The Track and Field Open begins at 6 p.m. at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Co-sponsors include the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department, the Convention Center and the University of New Mexico Athletics Department. The competition is open to all. Last year, more than 300 athletes competed.

Events include the 60-meter hurdle and dash, 200- and 400-meter sprints, one-mile run, 4×400-meter relay, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, high jump and shot put. There is a $2 registration fee for each event and a $2 spectator fee. To register, go online to coacho.com, and click on registration and calendar. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Commemorative Breakfast

The Grant Chapel AME Church will host its 23rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Breakfast on Monday, starting at 8 a.m. at the Marriott Pyramid North Hotel, 5151 San Francisco NE.

The program will include a guest speaker, recognition of sponsors, scholarship presentations and musical selections by a city-wide choir led by musician and producer Vincent Baty.

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