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26th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration

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From left, Mardie Gram, 13, Mumi Thiaw, 13, and Ngis Thiaw, 10, watch a PowerPoint presentation about Martin Luther King Jr. Monday during Ashlandís 25th annual MLK celebration. Bob Pennell / Daily TidingsBob Pennell
 Posted: 2:00 AM January 16, 2014

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice," Martin Luther King Jr. said during his "Keep Moving From This Mountain" speech in 1965. It is this quote, which was originally inspired by 19th-century abolitionist Theodore Parker, that provides the inspiration for the 26th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration at the Historic Ashland Armory.

D.L. Richardson will return as the master of ceremonies, and Kayse Jama, executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing will deliver the keynote address.

Jama, born to a nomad family in Somalia, found sanctuary in Portland after civil war broke out in his country. He is an original founder of CIO and trained immigrant and refugee community leaders from 2005 through 2007 under the New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center in Portland. His work with immigrant and refugee populations has earned him multiple awards, including the Lowenstein Trust Award in 2009, which is presented yearly to "the person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in Portland."

If you go

What: 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration

When: Noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20

Where: Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St.

Cost: Free

Call: 541-482-2111

This year's celebration coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Because of this, the theme for this year's event is "1964-2014: 50 years of striving toward freedom and justice ­— a work in progress."

"It's important for us to gather as a community to inform ourselves of where we are, remind ourselves of where we'd like to be, and inspire ourselves to get there," says Claudia Alick, a leader of the celebration's planning committee.

This year's event will feature performances in dance, music and spoken-word by Ashland Danceworks, the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and more.

Immediately following the program, there will be a march to the Ashland Plaza, where there is the traditional rebroadcast of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

The free event takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. donations of nonperishable food items for the Ashland Food Project or winter clothing for the Maslow Project will be accepted. The doors open at 11:30 a.m., and those who attend shoulda arrive early as the event reaches standing room-only by noon.

A livestream of the event will be shown at Standing Stone Brewery, 101 Oak St., Ashland, and also will be available to view online at

That night at 7:30, there also will be a free tribute to King's life in the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall. Chicago-based Axiom Brass will perform David Sampson's "Morning Music" and George Walker's "Music for Brass: Sacred and Profane." These will be interspersed with readings of Dr. King's speeches and letters by Lawson Inada, Oregon's poet laureate from 2006-10. The Music Recital Hall is at the west end of the SOU campus on Mountain Avenue.

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