Statewide MLK celebration in Conway

by Sonja J. Keith

Conway will be the site of this year’s “A Day of Service – A Day On, Not Day Off” – a statewide celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission has decided to move its annual celebration event throughout the state to help get the word out about the commission and King’s work, according to executive director DuShun Scarbrough. Previously, the celebration was held at Philander Smith College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“This program is for everyone,” Scarbrough said. “It is a day for Dr. King and to promote his legacy. It is for all ethnicities and all walks of life.”

The event begins at noon at the Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas. The commission is partnering with Conway Corporation, the mayor’s office, Conway Regional Health System and state Rep. Linda Tyler on the event.

MLK commissioner Cornell Maltbia, pastor of True Holiness Saints Center in Conway, will be the keynote speaker.

In addition to Maltbia and Scarbrough, those scheduled to speak include Gov. Mike Beebe; Conway Mayor Tab Townsell; Maria Oates, a youth commissioner and a student at Conway High School; the Rev. Cecil Gibson, pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Luann; and Phil Kaplan, chairman of the MLK commission.

The program also includes:
A performance by Judah Chorale, a Conway choir directed by Tommy Mason.
The national anthem by Erin Knight, a 10-year-old who attends Crystal Hill Magnet School in North Little Rock.
A dance performance by Michelle Knell of Sonshine Academy.

Several activities are planned after the program at about 12:30 p.m., including a meal, for the less fortunate in the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center. Personal hygiene kits will also be distributed and free job counseling and health screenings will be provided. Last year, organizers reached out to approximately 1,200 individuals during the event.

 Members of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.

“We thank you in advance for joining us in events that will help this and the next generation achieve Dr. King’s dreams of understanding and acceptance of nonviolence and human equality as a way of building common unity among all Arkansans,” Scarbrough said.

For more information, please call 888.290.KING (5464) or visit