A civil rights pioneer and organizer of the 1960's Sit-In Movement and beyond, Lonnie C. King Jr., will be the featured speaker during the Unity Group's 48th Annual MLK Week Main Program on Monday, Jan. 15, at 5 p.m. at Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church.
The main program directly follows the Annual March down historic MLK Boulevard, which will form alongside People's Street which aligns Olivet Baptist Church at 3 p.m., and commence down MLK Boulevard at 4 p.m. The main program will then convene at Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church at 5 p.m., where Mr. King will highlight some of his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
The theme for this year is, "The Dream: Delay is Not An Option!"
About Lonnie C. King, Jr.:
Mr. King, civil rights stalwart Julian Bond, and the student body presidents of what was then Atlanta's six HBCU's, Atlanta University Center — Clark, Morehouse, Morris Brown, Spelman College, Atlanta University, and the Interdenominational Theological Center, would form and organize the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights, and issue An Appeal for Human Rights in many of Atlanta's daily papers. This action followed the dawning of a growing movement that was seen in places like Greensboro, N.C., Nashville, and with students from Chattanooga's Howard High during the first weeks of 1960, and would continue to sweep across the nation like a moral awakening throughout the year, including with COAHR's forming in Atlanta that March. In one 'Oral Interview', Mr. King stressed that there was a great need for unity in order to successfully challenge segregation and discrimination in all public sectors and accommodations through partaking in kneel-ins, jail no bail, and filing lawsuits that integrated all recreational places in Atlanta. The practical demonstrations were deeply rooted in the philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience, and despite being battered, bruised and beaten, like other desegregation efforts that arose during that year, they persevered. Mr. King and the Atlanta Student Movement had resolved that the time had come to rid the nation of the elements of racism and discrimination that threatened to relegate any American to second-class citizenship status. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights, in 2010 the Appeal for Human Rights was updated in order to incorporate the challenges facing us today. From the 1960's Sit-In Movement, to Bloody Sunday in Selma and the Poor Peoples and Fair Housing Campaigns of 1968, the national call for equality and justice would be heeded through widespread advocacy on a variety of levels which includes the formation of dedicated social justice organizations like the Unity Group in 1969. Some of the more noteworthy contributions of the Unity Group has been the initiation and sponsorship of one of America's oldest and most continuous MLK Day Marches which began in 1970; the call for a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday and renaming of 9th Street to MLK Blvd. in the 1980's; and the advocacy for universal equality in education, voting and all of our democratic processes.
Other scheduled events for MLK Week include the Annual Prayer breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 9 a.m. at Second Missionary Baptist Church, which will feature the return of one of Chattanooga's native sons, longtime community advocate and radio personality Lee Henderson, and activities that will closely examine mass incarceration, youth development, and coalition building. For more information, refer to the Unity Group of Chattanooga's website and social media pages.