- The Washington Times - Friday, January 13, 2006

Governments, churches and civic groups are sponsoring a weekend of prayer services, educational forums and celebrations to honor Martin Luther King on the anniversary of his birth 77 years ago tomorrow in Atlanta.

The federal holiday recognizing the slain civil rights leader’s birthday falls on Monday, but tributes were scheduled all weekend, beginning with a wreath-laying ceremony yesterday.

Scores of elementary school students offered their dreams for the future, and several school choirs performed at the gathering at the Department of the Interior near the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Day Committee Inc., a nonprofit group set up to educate and promote the federal holiday, also is sponsoring events in the District.

The group is planning an interfaith prayer service at the 10th Street Baptist Church at 10 a.m. Monday. It then will conduct a short march to the African-American Civil War Memorial at Vermont Avenue and U Street Northwest for a wreath-laying ceremony at 1 p.m. before holding a musical tribute at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street Northwest at 6 p.m.

Montgomery County’s King birthday celebration is planned for Monday, with a day of services and tributes at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda starting at 12:30 p.m.

A program featuring speakers and musicians begins at 3 p.m. Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will receive the 2006 King Humanitarian Award.

Mr. Duncan also will attend a celebration at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the King Community Center in Hagerstown and the King Day parade in Baltimore at noon Monday.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will attend the annual King Day service at the Hope Christian Church in Lanham at 1 p.m. Monday.

Meanwhile, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde will celebrate Mass at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Northern Virginia’s first black parish.

The county also is sponsoring a tribute at 7 p.m. Monday at the Thomas Jefferson Theatre featuring a musical program and high school students reading excerpts from King’s speeches.

Officials in Alexandria have planned a memorial program at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

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