NAACP's MLK service set

NAACP's MLK service set

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"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Wooster/Orrville NAACP will host an annual community service in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. The keynote address for the free event will be given by Rev. Gwendolyn Cook Webb of Birmingham, Alabama, a veteran of the civil rights movement.

The Wayne County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. service and celebration will be held Monday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 621 College Ave., Wooster. The event is free and open to everyone.

The event has been an area tradition since 2004. According to Rev. Dr. Kevan S. Franklin, the chair of the MLK celebration committee of the NAACP Unit 3208 Wooster/Orrville, the local event began with several pastors working through the local NAACP.

The MLK holiday was established in 1983 legislation at the national level. In 1986 the first MLK Day celebrations were held across the nation.

In addition to the keynote speaker, the evening will include comments from several area spiritual leaders, music presented by Wooster High School choirs and local musician Darion Stanford, and awards presented by Webb to area students for the annual essay contest.

The main theme of this year's essay contest was "Birmingham Children's March." Webb was among the children who participated in the march. This year 502 essays were received.

A life-long civil rights activist, Webb was arrested when she marched with hundreds of local students in the event, which took place following the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

In 1975 Webb joined the Birmingham Police Department as their second black female officer. She obtained the rank of detective. She is the founder and CEO of Foot Soldiers International Inc. and founder and CEO of Sisters Informing Sisters Inc.

Webb's civic affiliations include being an original Foot Soldier for Civil Rights, which earned her the “I Have a Dream” Award; The Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Award; Civil Rights Legends 2011 Black Achievers Regions Financial Corporation; and numerous other awards and positions.

Additionally, she earned the status of an Outstanding Young Woman of America and served on the Jefferson County Judicial Commission for six years, The Mayor’s Drug Task Force, and The Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Webb was featured in an Academy Award-winning documentary, “Mighty Times The Children’s March." She was selected as the Outstanding Foot Soldier from Birmingham, Alabama, along with four other delegates from other parts of Alabama, as President and Mrs. Obama’s special guest for Black History Month 2015.

In addition to speaking at the NAACP event, Webb will visit the Wooster Branch Library to talk with children participating in a service project in honor of Dr. King. She will be a featured speaker at The College of Wooster's Freedlander Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m., addressing the topic, "Beyond the Chaos."

The Wooster/Orrville NAACP Unit 3208 is open to anyone to join.

"(We) are working to obtain more members to help with our criminal justice committee and with working to educate our community on saving the environment. These are two of our priorities," said Juanita Greene, president of the group. "We have many committees that can use help from volunteers. Our work is never-ending."

The organization has established a high school chapter and is re-establishing a chapter at The College of Wooster.

According to Greene, the local group is working as a whole with the national NAACP to provide students with information about history, politics, health issues and women's rights.

Find the Wooster/Orrville NAACP online at www.wooster-orrvillenaacp.org/. Donations may be made to the nonprofit by sending a check to Wooster/Orrville NAACP, P.O. Box 434, Wooster, OH 44691.