Martin Luther
King, Jr. Way Renaming, Harrisonburg Virginia

People's Day, 1/18/2016: Creating Beloved Community Free From the Evil Triplets of Racism, Militarism, and Economic Exploitation

The year following the dedication of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way saw successful popular efforts including a Ban the Box campaign, a groundswell in favor of building better communities, not more jails, the recognition of Historic Newtown Cemetery and more, and the election to City Council of the African American leader of the effort to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a holiday on the JMU campus.

In the past year, we have seen the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the fall of Confederate flag, and Dr. King's powerful vision from his final year defining the terms of the 2016 Presidential election.

At Noon, January 18, 2016, there will be a celebration at S. Main and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way with a march and program at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in which participants and representatives from organizations will speak and then gather over a multicultural potluck meal to carry forward efforts into the coming year in the spirit of Dr. King.

Other events taking place for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

Calendar at Eastern Mennonite University. Calendar at James Madison University . NAACP Sunday Celebration Facebook event.

The NAACP keynote speaker will be Rev. Derrick Parson, pastor of Providence UMC , North Chesterfield ,VA. ,and formerly pastor of the local Asbury UMC. Music will be rendered by the MLK Celebration Interfaith Choir, led by Laura Douglass , Minister of Music of Asbury UMC, Harrisonburg. A free will offering will be lifted to benefit People Helping People and Mrs. Whilemina Johnson will be acknowledged for her foresight in organizing this community service many years ago.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served

Vision Statement:

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Way Coalition believes in inclusive community in which every person is loved and valued, regardless of any differences, and is empowered to participate, have a voice and effect positive change in her or his community. We will work tirelessly to create a sustainable democracy that is led and owned by the people, one in which the people have timely access to the information and expertise needed for governance. We will advocate for this vision and challenge, if necessary, those individuals and systems of power that stand in the way of building this beloved community in Harrisonburg.

The Renaming:

On February 12, 2013 Harrisonburg resident Stan Maclin asked city council to name a street for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On April 9th, a task force was appointed by the city to select a street to be named. On August 13, 2013, in agreement with an overwhelming show of support, City Council voted to rename Cantrell Avenue.

Logo, King Memorial in Washington DC:

The monument's design reflects a quote from Dr. King:

"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

The bright stone profile of Dr. King in the center of the picture sheds the light of hope that forms the background of the web site. The monument's opening gave hope to one individual, Stan Maclin, to seek our street renaming. He went through the despair of near death illness before being brought back to see his dream realized.

Throughout its history, the African American community of Harrisonburg has been strong with individuals who were a stone of hope as the community overcame the despair of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation, and urban renewal. Now that history shines as a stone of hope to a diverse community in these times of economic uncertainty and eroding justice when Dr. King's vision gives energy for the future.

History of the Coalition:

In September of 2013, a coalition of groups came together to plan the dedication of Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Groups and individuals continue to come forward with support in terms of services and material and with endorsements and participation to carry forward the message of that historic renaming.