MLK celebration at the Ashe Arts Center

Article Published: Jan. 12, 2012 | Modified: Jan. 12, 2012
MLK celebration at the Ashe Arts Center

Actor Mike Wiley will perform at the Ashe Arts Council’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Jan.

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The Ashe County Arts Council will sponsor a community celebration in honor of Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Ashe Arts Center in West Jefferson.

The celebration will feature essays, speeches and tributes highlighting the message of King and his teachings of peace, unity and equality in our society.

This year, the focus will be on women in the civil rights movement. There will be a reading from “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” by Linda Brent, a pseudonym for Harriet Jacobs. Other readings will include excerpts from “Open Wide the Freedom Gates” by Dorothy Height. Special music will be under the direction of Diane Bryan-Leeper.

The featured performer for this event will be Mike Wiley, an actor based in North Carolina who has performed more than 10 years in theater, film and television. As playwright and actor, his overriding goal is expanding cultural awareness – for all audiences – through dynamic portrayal of pivotal events to unveil a richer picture of the American experience.

Wiley will perform monologues, featuring female Freedom Riders. In 1961, the original 13 Freedom Riders boarded a bus in Washington, D.C., bound for New Orleans via Mississippi and Alabama.

Over the course of the next three months, approximately 300 other riders took up the mantle and followed the path of those first brave few. Many were arrested and, instead of posting bail, chose to serve sentences in one of the most brutal prisons in the south, Parchman Farm, proving the Freedom Riders and the movement to desegregate interstate travel would not be deterred.

The Martin Luther King celebration is open to the public, and refreshments will be served. The event is free of charge. For more information, call the Ashe Arts Council at (336) 846-ARTS.

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