Music will be an integral part of the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, organizers have announced. Community residents are invited to participate in combined choirs to sing at various events.
According to co-event organizer Robin Freeman, rehearsals for combined community choir rehearsals for the celebration will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 10, 12, and 17 at Elect Temple Church of God in Christ located at 305 S. Johnson St. in Benton.
Anyone may participate in the choir, Freeman said.
She noted that choir rehearsals are set on Thursdays, Jan. 10 and 17, for a youth choir that will sing Jan. 19 at the Unity Celebration and following the Jan. 21 parade on the Saline County Courthouse Lawn.
A rehearsal is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 12, for a combined adult choir that will sing at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the celebration's memorial service to be held at Elect Temple.
Freeman noted that the 2013 theme of the King celebration is "Be the Dream" and is based on Dr. King's quote: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is 'What are you doing for others?'"
Local activities reportedly will include:
•Friday, Jan. 18, at 7 a.m. — Prayer Breakfast at Benton's First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall located at 211 S. Market St. in Benton. Guest speakers will be Benton Mayor David Mattingly and Dushun Scarbrough, executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission.
•Saturday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m. — Community Unity Celebration at First United Methodist Church located at 200 N. Market St. in Benton. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. and at 6 p.m. the program will begin. Guest speaker will be the Rev. Bill Cato, pastor of Fordyce First United Methodist Church. Essay contest winners will be announced at this event.
•Sunday, Jan. 20, 4 p.m. — Memorial service at Elect Temple Church of God in Christ, located at 305 S. Johnson St. in Benton. The keynote speaker will be the founder of Stop the Violence, Rev. Benny Johnson of Little Rock. For more information, contact co-event organizer Evelyn Reed at 501-776-7122.
•Monday Jan. 21, at 9 a.m. — MLK Day of Service. Volunteers will meet at Ralph Bunche Park for a community cleanup. For more information, contact Runion Anderson Jr. at 551-2016. A free lunch will be served at noon at Mt. Zion Church, located at 1305 S. East St. in Benton.
•Monday, Jan. 21, at 4 p.m. — MLK Parade featuring Grand Marshal Karl Barnes, president of the Ralph Bunche Neighborhood Association and pastor of Elect Temple Church of God in Christ. Line-up is in front of C.W. Lewis Stadium. The parade route will begin on Market Street, then will turn right onto North Street, and right back onto Main Street. The parade ends at South and Main streets. Parade participation is free.
Applications may be picked up at the CADC office, located at 321 Edison Ave. in Benton from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or by contacting Robin Freeman at 501-776-7475 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
"Parade participation is strongly encouraged," Freeman said. "Trophies (spirit awards) will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners.
The deadline to enter is Jan. 18.
Freeman encouraged residents to attend the "great gathering on the Saline County Courthouse Lawn" following the parade. There will be a presentation from the Combined Community Choir and special speakers; MLK essay presentations; and dance presentations.
She noted that the essay contest is continuing in the Benton School District.
Contact local school principals to participate, or contact Freeman at email@example.com  or 501-776-7475. The essay contest is sponsored by Everett Buick GMC and they will award cash prizes for the top three winners in four grade divisions. The deadline to enter is Jan. 11, 2013.
The Benton Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebrations began in 2005 and have focused on promoting education and appreciation for justice and understanding in society, Freeman noted.
For more information on participating, contact Freeman at 501-776-745 or Evelyn Reed at 501-776-7122.