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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observances in Cartersville

Local events for 2014 include a candlelight church service, youth rally, brotherhood march and program, and wreath-laying ceremony.

Monday, Jan. 20, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

For some, the national holiday honoring the prominent civil rights activist is a time to give back and serve the community, be it through removing graffiti or picking up litter in a local park.

For others, it’s an opportunity to educate themselves about King and his life's work. And for others, it’s a time to just kick back and enjoy the prolonged weekend.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee of Bartow County has organized two days of events to honor King here in Cartersville, including keynote speaker Rev. Louis Tonsmeire Sr., Cartersville city councilman.

This year's events set for Cartersville are:

What: Candlelight Church Service
Where: Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church,  147 Jones Street in Cartersville.    
When: Sunday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m.

What: Youth Rally
Youngsters from various churches and in the community will participate in song, poetry, dance and skits.    
Where: St. Luke A.M.E. Church, 130 Jones Street in Cartersville.   
When: Monday, Jan. 20, beginning at 10 a.m.

What: Brotherhood March
Where: Begins at the Civic Center, continues along Main and Erwin streets and ends at the courthouse on Cherokee Avenue.
When: Monday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. (Participants gather at 1:15 p.m.)

What: Wreath-Laying Ceremony
Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini and Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor will speak. 
Where: Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center (courthouse)
When: Monday, Jan. 20, immediately following the Brotherhood March.

What: Brotherhood Program
Rev. John Lampley, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, will speak.    
Where: Civic Center, 435 W. Main St. in Cartersville.
When: Monday, Jan. 20, following the Wreath-Laying Ceremony.

The Holiday's History

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, now a U.S. holiday, took 15 years to create.

Legislation was first proposed by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) four days after King was assassinated in 1968.

The bill was stalled, but Conyers, along with Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-New York), pushed for the holiday every legislative session until it was finally passed in 1983, following civil rights marches in Washington. 

Then-president Ronald Reagan signed it into law. Yet it was not until 2000 that every U.S. state celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by its name. Before then, states like Utah referred to the holiday more broadly as Human Rights Day. 

Now, the Corporation for National and Community Service has declared it an official U.S. Day of Service.

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