The 56th Martin Luther King Jr. Beloved Community Commemorative Service on January 15, 2024, at 10 AM in the Ebenezer Baptist Church's Horizon Sanctuary commenced with the theme "It Starts with Me: Shifting the Cultural Climate Through the Study and Practice of KINGIAN Nonviolence." Reverend Natosha Reid Rice, Minister for Public Life at All Saints' Episcopal Church and Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Habitat for Humanity Int'l, along with Reverend Reginald Sharp Jr., Senior Pastor at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, presided over the event.
The opening anthem, "Hallelujah" Chorus #44, was performed by the Commemorative Service Choir accompanied by the Covington Regional Ballet. The service included a video presentation by the King Center Impact, followed by a welcome from Reverend Reginald Sharp Jr. and Reverend Natosha Reid Rice. Koryn Hawthorne, a gospel singer, delivered a powerful performance of "America the Beautiful."
The program featured various scripture readings by Rabbi Elizabeth Brei, Pastor Don Mclaughlin, and Sis. Shahida Sharif. Bishop Craig Oliver Sr. delivered the invocation, and a musical performance of the Negro National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," was presented by Karen Briggs, a violinist, composer, and arranger.
The call to commemoration was passionately delivered by Reverend Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center. Greetings were extended by notable figures like Governor Brian Kemp, Mayor Andre Dickens, and Senator Raphael G. Warnock. The highlight for me which brought me to tears, was the international tribute given by Senior Pastor, Dr. Rev. Young Hoon Lee from Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea. His message paired with the international music performance by The Dream Choir singing Arirang and Amazing Grace left me balling. The youth presentation showcased the talents of students from different institutions: Mr. Gregory Charles Brown Morehouse College, Senior
Mr. Anthony Mitchell Clark Atlanta University, Senior, Miss. Jordyn Olivia Hudson Spelman College, Junior, Miss Sydney Jeffrey Ebenezer Baptist Church & Decatur High School, 12th Grade,Mr. Christian Ellis Scott Beloved Community Leadership Academy The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, 12th Grade,Miss Beya Sellami Atlanta International School, 11th Grade,Miss Maria Bravo Montes Mountain View High School, 12th Grade, Mr. Jamel Ramsey Samad St. Pius X Catholic High School, 12th Grade, Miss Lakshita Ramesh Babu Atlanta International School, 10th Grade, Miss Taliyah Scruggs Morris Brown College, Senior, Miss Anisa Suffren-Crumby The Woodward Academy, 11th Grade, Mr. Robert Briggs, Jr. (Student intern to Mrs. Connie F. Smith-Lindsey) Morehouse College, freshman; emphasizing the importance of the younger generation in carrying forward the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Special tributes were paid to Coretta Scott King and Dr. Christine King Farris, including a video tribute and a musical performance by Dr. Uzee Brown. Further tributes to Dr. King came from various individuals, including U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, Dr. Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi, Ben Stiller, and Honorable Liz Cheney. With musical performances by Johnathan McReynolds Grammy Award Winning Artist who sung "God Is Good", Callie Day Vocalist who sung "For Every Mountain", Koryn Hawthorne Gospel Singer who sung "Won't he do it". Also Special tribute to Mrs. Coretta Scott King, from Young Woman's Leadership Academy; GISELLE Walker, sixth grade student.
The keynote speaker, Reverend Shavon Arline-Bradley, President and CEO of the National Council of Negro Women, delivered a powerful address, and the service concluded with a bell-ringing ceremony by members of the Atlanta Consular Corps. Pastor Lisa Frith gave the benediction, and the Commemorative Service Choir performed the anthem of the movement, "We Shall Overcome."
The event was a poignant tribute, blending musical performances, thoughtful reflections, and youth involvement to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The diverse program underscored the continuing relevance of King's principles in promoting equality, justice, and nonviolence.