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Local events honor the life and work of MLK

Gloria Chavez-Sampson carries a portrait of Martin Luther King during last year’s march to Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza. This year’s parade starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Martin Luther King and University NE. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A number of events will be held in and around Albuquerque to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., the late civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.

King, an anti-Vietnam War activist, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and executive member of the NAACP, was shot to death by an assassin on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. He was 39.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1986, then-President Ronald Reagan signed federal legislation establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the third Monday in January.

Communities across the country have named streets in his honor, and in 2011 the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated.

Local MLK events start with the annual MLK march and parade on Saturday. Participants will meet at Martin Luther King and University NE at 9 a.m. and walk west to Civic Plaza. There, a commemoration ceremony will take place that includes speakers, music and dance performances. The event, sponsored by the MLK State Commission, attracts thousands, including state and local dignitaries, youth groups, churches, civic organizations, sororities and fraternities, immigrant organizations, nonprofit organizations, corporations and families.

• The 24th annual MLK Jr. Commemorative Breakfast, sponsored by the Grant Chapel AME Church, will be held at 8 a.m. Monday at the Marriott Pyramid North Hotel, 5151 San Francisco NE. The theme is “Keeping the Dream Alive: A day on, not a day off.” The keynote speaker will be Rodney Prunty, president and CEO of United Way of Central New Mexico.

Three high school students this year will receive college scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.

All 650 seats for the breakfast have been sold. For further information, call 293-1300.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of New Mexico will hold its annual MLK Jr. luncheon starting at noon, Jan. 20, at the Grace Outreach Event Center, 1016 Rosarito Dr. SE, in Rio Rancho. Tickets are $35. For further information, call 280-0232.

The MLK Indoor Track Invitational will be at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Jan. 24, from 4-10 p.m., and Jan. 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the Invitational Open Meet on Jan. 25 from 6-10 p.m. The athletic meet is organized by the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department, the University of New Mexico Athletic Department and the Convention Center.

College and high school students from around New Mexico and other states will compete in track and field events, which will be open to all boys, girls, men and women. The fee for participating athletes is $2 per event. Spectators will be charged $5.

For more information about registration and events, go to

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Commemoration and Community Service Award, sponsored by the Santa Fe branch of the NAACP, will be held Jan. 20, at noon, in the New Mexico State Capitol Rotunda. The event is free and open to the public.

The theme for the commemoration is “The Purpose of Education,” and the keynote speaker will be Ryan Stewart, secretary designee, New Mexico Public Education Department. He is the first African American to lead that department, overseeing education policy, program development, funding distribution and operational management.

This year, the Santa Fe Branch of the NAACP and the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission are acknowledging four Santa Fe students in recognition of their service to improve the community and the lives of Santa Feans. They will receive a monetary award, a certificate, a commemorative gift, and a one-year membership in the Santa Fe Branch NAACP.

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