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Thousands to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy at parade, other Charlotte events

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County will honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. beginning on Saturday with a parade and family-friendly service projects expected to draw thousands.

The free Charlotte-Mecklenburg MLK National Holiday Celebration is one of the Southeast’s largest promoting King’s nonviolent pursuit of equal rights for all.

Monday’s “A March for Justice: 50 Years Later” and MLK Jr. Memorial Service also highlight the community’s remembrance of the civil rights leader.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in celebrating and promoting the worth of every human being,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee said in announcing this year’s events. “In his pursuit of equal rights by nonviolent means, Dr. King encouraged diverse cultures to live together in a spirit of love, understanding and service to one another.

“Through these events, we celebrate those who are committed to carrying Dr. King’s legacy forward from generation to generation,” the committee said.

Events include:

▪ The MLK Holiday Parade: 10 a.m.-noon Saturday on Tryon Street, from 9th Street to Stonewall Street in uptown. The parade has been a Charlotte tradition since 1981. Thousands line the route each year to watch more than 100 community organizations, marching bands, floats and dance performers.

▪ Hands On Charlotte’s Martin Luther King Jr. Call to Service: noon-2 p.m. Saturday at various sites. Hundreds of volunteers join service projects benefiting non-profit organizations, schools and other service providers. Projects and locations: .

▪ Martin Luther King Jr. Growing the Dream Awards Ceremony: 12:30-3 p.m. Saturday at Johnson C. Smith University. The ceremony recognizes Mecklenburg County’s “unsung heroes,” including grassroots leaders who work behind-the-scenes to better the community.

▪ Martin Luther King Jr. P.E.A.C.E. Basketball Showcase: Eight high school girls’ and boys’ teams from across the Carolinas compete from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday in the Jack S. Brayboy gymnasium at JCSU.

▪ YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s 24th Annual MLK Holiday Breakfast: 8-9:30 a.m. Monday, Charlotte Convention Center. Keynote speaker will be Pamela Lue-Hing, a Charlotte entrepreneur, professional speaker and author of “Pink Slip to POWERHOUSE: 12 Steps to Next.” Tickets: Debbie Smith, 704-716-6513;

▪ “A March for Justice: 50 Years Later”: 9:15-9:45 a.m. Monday from the Charlotte Convention Center to Marshall Park. The march begins as the annual YMCA MLK Holiday Breakfast ends.

▪ Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Wreath Laying: 9:45-10:30 a.m. Monday at Marshall Park. The annual wreath laying on King’s birthday commemorates his life and death.

▪ Martin Luther King Jr. National Observance: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday in Halton Theater at Central Piedmont Community College Elizabeth. The celebration of Mecklenburg’s diversity features music, dance and poetry. Speakers examine King’s moral, theological and philosophical underpinnings. The program also recognizes winners of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Arts & Writing Contest.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak