Vance Price will be MLK speaker Monday at New Antioch

  The Reverend Vance Price will be the keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King celebration, Monday at the Greater New Antioch Baptist Church.

  Rev. Price, pastor of the New St. James Baptist Church will be the highlight of the program, Monday at 7 p.m., addressing the live and virtual audience from the theme “A dream for Justice.”

  The program, hosted by the Martin Luther King Foundation, has been held without interruption in Monroe since the MLK holiday became a federal holiday in 1986.

  Before 1986, the late Rev. John L. Russell, who founded the King Foundation in Monroe, was part of a group of city employees led by the late Nashall Harris, who began observing the King Holiday during their lunch break at the flag poles in front of City Hall.

  Soon after, Monroe Mayor Bob Powell welcomed the salute and allowed Harris and his civic organization called “BASC” to promote the program at the city’s expense at the Monroe Civic Center. After Harris’ death, Russell and the King Foundation promoted the civic center program, a King Day parade, and an evening program on the King Holiday.

  When Jamie Mayo became mayor, the city took over the community-based program and turned it into a city hall awards program.

  The King Foundation continued its program even as the city hosted a competing holiday, usually several days before the actual holiday.

   Monday’s program will feature music from an ensemble of the Grambling State University Choir, individual soloists, the Historic Trailblazer Award, youth essay competition, and other activities.

   The Reverend John Russell, Jr. said all social distancing rules will be followed, including sanitizing facilities and social distanced seating. He said groups that sing will be masked and microphones sanitized.

   Reverend Russell said the program will not be printed but displayed on the church’s big screen to prevent the possibility of virus transition through printed programs.

Other programs

   The City of Monroe is hosting an INVITATION-ONLY MLK program at the Monroe Civic Center “W.L. “Jack” Howard Theater Thursday, January 14th, at 11 a.m. No information about the program has been provided to the media, but the city mailed private invitations to select individuals last week.

   The private invitation-only affair is designed to adhere to COVID 19 restrictions. The Howard Theater seats 2,200; at 50% capacity, about 1,100 could safely meet the COVID public gathering restrictions.

   On Monday, the Zeta Phi Omega and Theta Zeta, and the Ivy Merit Foundation will have a day of service in which members will help collect food items for the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank.

   The group of sorority based women will host a drop off-site at the Lone-Wa Worship Center (3027 Breard St., Monroe, La.)  from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. They will also be collecting financial donations to help the food bank.