The Enduring Dream

By Jesse Campbell (

Article Published: Jan. 15, 2014 | Modified: Jan. 27, 2014
The Enduring Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C.

Photo submitted


I Have a Dream Week

Jan. 19

• 11 a.m.: Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship: “Reflections on the Beloved Community.” The Rev Tommy Brown leads a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by exploring the concept that King promoted of the Beloved Community.

• 11 a.m.: High Country United Church in Vilas: The Rev. Nancy Sehested will lead a worship service honoring King’s legacy and will consider the role of anger in inspiring work of peace and justice.

Jan. 20

• 8 a.m.: The 15th annual MLK Challenge through ASU’s Appalachian and the Community Together is a full day of community service to honor the life of King.  Participants meet at Legends (190 Hardin St.), divide into teams and select a mystery service challenge with a local nonprofit. Participants are provided three free meals and transportation.

• 7 p.m.: Mabel Methodist Church in Zionville. Featured will be the Junaluska Gospel Choir of the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church. Desserts and fellowship to follow. For more information, call (828) 297-3568.

Jan. 21

• 7 p.m.: ASU Schaefer Center: 30th annual ASU Commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Acclaimed journalist Soledad O’Brien presents “Diversity: On TV, Behind the Scenes and In Our Lives.” Admission is free, and the public is invited. For more information, call (828) 262-6158.

Jan. 21-25

• All Day: Watauga County Public Library. Multicultural Craft Project. An open, drop-by craft table, making “I Have a Dream-catchers,” inspired by Native American dreamcatchers. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (828) 264-8784.

Jan. 22

• 6:30 p.m.: Candlelight Vigil for Prisoners of Conscience Worldwide at 297 Cherry Drive in Boone.

Jan. 26

• 11 a.m.: High Country United Church: “Seeking Unity in Our Colliding Worlds.” The Rev Nancy Sehested leads another MLK-inspired service.

• 3 p.m.: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Council Street: “A Musical Feast.” A chamber music concert celebrating cultural diversity with music from England to India. Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for full-time students (with ID) and free for children younger than 12. For more information and reservations, call Akal Dev Sharonne at (828) 264-1384.

More than four decades following the passing of one of the nation’s most revered icons of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. live on.

His resounding message of love, unity and equality for all races through nonviolent acts reverberates throughout the nation and carries a charged implication that the strides made by the movement should always be remembered, and not just on one cold day in January.

King’s legacy will be conveyed to scores of High Country residents during ceremonies celebrating his life and work at numerous events across the area next week, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20.

Appalachian State University’s 15th MLK Challenge kicks off in Boone on Monday, Jan. 20. The event features a full day of service to honor the life and legacy of King.

Student participants meet at Legends, which is located off Hardin Street on the ASU campus. Participants are divided into service teams and randomly tasked with a “challenge” in conjunction with a local community partner or nonprofit organization.

Organizer Kate Johnson said there are several ways the community can get involved.

“They can donate items or money to a variety of great causes and agencies on the day of the event or simply support student groups as they are out in the community next Monday,” she said.

In West Jefferson, a tribute to King and his teachings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Ashe Arts Center, located at 303 School Ave. in West Jefferson. The event is free of charge.

“That spirit should be something we remember 365 days a year,” Ashe Arts Council executive director Jane Lonon said in a previous interview.

Watauga County’s weeklong celebration, “I Have a Dream Week,” dates back to 1992.

That year, in response to a Ku Klux Klan march planned in Boone and Blowing Rock, the Baha’i community organized a Unity Festival to focus attention on racial and cultural unity and to draw attention away from the KKK. The festival became part of a weeklong series of events sponsored by area churches, organizations, individuals and ASU students that attracted about 1,300 participants.

Unity Festival events were held again in 1993 and 1994. In 1998, many of the organizers formed the I Have a Dream Task Force, which organized an annual “I Have a Dream Week” to correspond with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January. In 2006, the Unity Festival joined the yearly Diversity Celebration held at ASU in April, but “I Have a Dream” events in January have continued.

In recent years, the task force has disbanded, but “I Have a Dream Week” lives on.

“The task force itself no longer exists, but the tradition of these celebrations appears to have taken firm hold in this community,” said Mary Gray, a task force member. “It is a tribute to this community’s commitment to the vision of Dr. King’s dream.”

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