Stillwater remembers Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision for justice and equality

Story provided by Stillwater Public Library

“King’s Vision 2020” is a series of events commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 19-20 organized by Stillwater Community United (SCU), Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, OSU Division of Institutional Diversity, the City of Stillwater, and the Stillwater Public Library.

The main celebration takes place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20. Festivities kick-off with a unity march that leaves the Stillwater Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Participants will walk two blocks to the Community Center for the commemorative service that starts at 7 p.m. and includes music, speakers, and refreshments.

Attendees will hear vocal performances by the Martin Luther King Community Choir. Directors from local churches, including Mt. Zion, First Presbyterian, and First Methodist, have been working to bring together diverse voices. 

Representative Trish Ranson, one of the featured speakers, believes that this type of community collaboration is what makes the day so extraordinary.

Representative Trish Ranson

“I enjoy the MLK commemoration each year,” Ranson said. “It’s inspiring to see so many different people coming together to celebrate a man who dared to speak out when he saw something wrong.”

Adam Soltani, executive director for the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), will also speak at the event. He agrees with Ranson that fellowship is essential.

Adam Soltani

“It is important to recognize that we haven’t fully achieved King’s dream,” Soltani said. “But, it is also important that we come together to revisit that dream. It gives us hope and motivation when we are reminded of King’s accomplishments.”

Assessing our progress towards King’s vision is vital, according to Soltani. 

“We have moved in the right direction, but we must dig deeper. There are underlying, systemic issues of racism that were built into the foundation of our country. We must address these if we want to make a better future for our children.”

In addition to the celebration on Jan. 20, there will be other opportunities for the community to celebrate Dr. King and discuss his vision.

On Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m., the Stillwater Public Library will host a screening and discussion of the film “King in the Wilderness.” This award-winning documentary is a portrait of the final 18 months of King’s life. It highlights rarely-seen footage that shares new perspectives about King, his internal struggles, and his concerns for the future. Popcorn and drinks will be provided.

Early in the month, the Friends of the Stillwater Community Center will feature a relevant film as a part of their ongoing series “Classic Cinema at the Center” on Friday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. “Buck and the Preacher” is a western from 1972 that follows a former soldier as he leads wagon trains of African Americans from Louisiana into Kansas in the late 1860s. The movie examines the trials faced by African Americans in the post-Civil War era.

All MLK Jr. Day events and related activities are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Library’s webpage at http://library.stillwater.org.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and12th Ave.). Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.