By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
All in the community are invited to celebrate diversity Sunday at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration.
The celebration will begin at 4 p.m. with a march around the downtown Square. The march will begin and end at Convention Hall, and all celebration events will take place at Convention Hall.
Following the march and invocation, Enid Mayor Bill Shewey will offer a welcome, the national colors will be presented by the Silver Talon Honor Guard from Vance Air Force Base, and musical selections will be sung by the group Angelic Voices.
Col. Darren James, commander of the 71st Flying Trying Wing at Vance, will give an address, followed by comments by City Commissioner Tammy Wilson and Clayton Nolen, a founding member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration Commission.
Awards will be presented to this year’s Martin Luther King essay and poster contest.
Stephanie Carr, secretary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration Commission, said more than 200 local school children from pre-kindergarten through high school have submitted entries for the essay and poster contests.
Carr, who has helped organize the annual celebration since 2010, said it is open and intended for all members of the community.
“It really promotes diversity in the community,” Carr said. “When I first started working on the Martin Luther King Jr. commission, there were a lot of people who were under the assumption the celebration was just for African-American people.”
She said that’s a misconception the commission still is working to overcome.
“Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t just stand for African-American people,” Carr said. “He fought for the rights of women, he fought for city workers, and he stood up for the rights of all people to receive fair treatment and equal pay.”
King’s legacy of fighting for equality will be celebrated with the presentation of this year’s diversity awards during Sunday’s event.
This year’s nominees are Park Avenue Thrift, Southern Heights Heritage Museum, Alfred and Vicki Baldwin, and Janet Cordell.
The celebration will conclude with a reception supported by the Enid Inter-Racial Women’s Club, featuring food donated by KFC and Jumbo Foods.
Chuck Kearney, chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration Commission, said this year’s celebration will stand out because the event “keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
He expects more than 300 people to attend the celebration this year, topping last year’s attendance of more than 200 people.
Kearney said the theme of this year’s event, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work,” is a message that “crosses all barriers ... color barriers, gender barriers, from the rich to the poor.”
He said the message of teamwork is essential to forwarding King’s message of love.
“For it to work, everybody has to work together,” Kearney said. “For love to work, and to transcend our differences in society, you have to get color out of the way, you have to get gender out of the way, and you have to get differences between the rich and poor out of the way. All of that stems from love. You have to put away your differences to get along, and you have to have love.”