Actor Jim Lucas, who is known across the nation for his stirring and dramatic recitations and interpretations depicting the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will be the keynote speaker on Monday, Jan. 17, for Huntington’s annual celebration of the life of the late civil rights leader. The event is presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Marshall University.
Lucas, whose portrayal was called the “most authentic and exhilarating I have ever seen” by former President Bill Clinton, will present “REFLECTIONS: The Life and Times of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,” following a candlelight ceremony which begins at 6 p.m. at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church at 513 10th St. in Huntington.
In addition, there will be an exciting evening of music by local artists, poetry readings and participation by several religious leaders in the community, according to Dr. Shari Williams-Clarke, vice president of Marshall’s Division of Multicultural Affairs. Among those taking part will be Rabbi Dr. David Wucher of B’nai Sholom Congregation, Rev. Livinus Uba from the Sacred Heart Parish and St. Peter Claver Church, and Dr. Majed Khader of the Muslim Association of Huntington.
Other activities planned that day to celebrate the life and contributions of the late civil rights leader include city beautification projects in Huntington at Northcott Court Apartments and the A.D. Lewis Community Center. Volunteers, both students and community members, are encouraged to turn out from 10:30 a.m. until noon according to Clarke. Volunteers will be doing a variety of jobs at both locations.
“At Northcott we’ll be cleaning the playground, planting mulch, working in the laundry area and doing general cleaning,” Clarke said. “Then at noon we’re providing 70 brown bag lunches for the youth who live in that complex. We’ll be doing cleaning as well at the A.D. Lewis Center. I urge people to come and join us as we want to pay tribute to Dr. King’s legacy by giving back to the community.”
Northcott Court Apartments are located at 30 Northcott Court in Huntington and the Lewis Center is at 1450 A.D. Lewis Ave. in Huntington.
Clarke says this is the third year that community projects have been undertaken to honor King and they’ve been extremely successful.
“We’re excited to be responding to Dr. King’s spirit of service to others,” she said. “He was very multi-dimensional in his thinking and I noticed there has been this trend of observing his birthday by getting people involved to do what they can for their communities. So every year we’ve been able to do something that involves both students and community members to help others.”
And, she added, “The community has been extremely supportive of these activities in the spirit of Dr. King.”
In his one-man show, Lucas, who bears an uncanny resemblance to King, chronicles the civil rights movement through the eyes of King. A student of his teaching, Lucas is an advocate of his philosophy of non-violence in civil action to effect social change. Like King, Lucas participated in demonstrations and protests to achieve integration in his home town of Lake Providence, La. In August 1983, he attended the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington which Lucas said inspired him to learn and later deliver King’s famous speeches, including “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
Lucas has performed at more than 100 colleges and universities and has taken his program to Germany, South Korea and Japan. He has numerous movie and television credits, including parts on “The West Wing,” “24,” “The District” and “The Wire.” Currently he is starring in the critically acclaimed play, “The Meeting,” a drama about the life and philosophy of King and the late Malcolm X.
For additional information about any of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration activities, phone Marshall University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs at 304-696-4677.
Photo: Actor Jim Lucas will participate in Huntington's remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 17.
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