The annual MLK Jr. Day event at The Woodlands United Methodist Church is set from noon to 1 p.m. Monday as the community is invited to to remember and celebrate the civil rights leader and what he stood for.
While the event will be held at The Woodlands United Methodist Church at 2200 Lake Woodlands Drive, it is hosted by Impact Church of The Woodlands and sponsored by The Howard Hughes Development Corp.
“It’s open to the community and we welcome everybody to come,” said Cheryl Tyson, the chairwoman for the MLK Jr. Day event.
The event is organized by the Martin Luther King Jr Foundation Committee, a community group not directly associated with either Impact Church of The Woodlands or The Woodlands United Methodist Church.
Last year’s event brought around 700 to 1,000 people into the church to celebrate and Tyson expects a similar-sized crowd this year. Tyson said she wants attendees to get a sense of unity out of the event.
“Remember what Martin Luther King Junior stood for and hopefully to bring people together,” she said. “It’s a very diverse community, so it’s a very diverse event, and it’s just one day that all people can come together to honor a man that — this is what he dreamed of and what he wanted.”
Five scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded at the event to deserving high school seniors from the community. The money for the scholarships is raised through the event sponsors as well as fundraising throughout the year, including at the actual event. Each year information is sent to local school counselors to encourage students to apply for the scholarship. This year, Tyson said the committee had over 20 applicants.
Each year, members of the community who have given back in some way are given the Drum Major Award. But this year’s award winner or winners is being kept secret to surprise the recipient at the event. The award gets its name, Tyson said, because Dr. Martin Luther King was a drum major for justice. The winners are found through community nominations.
“They are chosen from the community based on their service that they have given back to the community in The Woodlands and beyond,” Tyson said.
Last year’s winners, Reed Kotalik, 9, and Rafe Kotalik, 13, brothers, were honored for embodying what King stood for. Reed, for his perseverance as a national champion at track and field who has also been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and for his ambassadorship with the Make LemonAide Foundation for Cerebral Palsy, and Rafe for his dedication to the community through his work as a Boy Scout and eventually an Eagle Scout.
Music is an integral part of the event and several local choirs, both children and adults, will be performing on Monday. The children’s choir will be wearing t-shirts printed with artwork submitted to last year’s event.
Each year, elementary school students submit their art for the poster awards. The first-place winner’s art is always displayed on the shirts worn by the children’s choir the next year. The first, second, and third place pieces will be on display at the church. Each piece is inspired by Dr. King and his dream.
This year’s guest speaker is Reverend James Payne from Beaumont. A new aspect of this year’s event will be the reading of a portion of King’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by David Darko, a student at Creekside Park Junior High School in Tomball ISD.