Local organizers mark 20-year milestone of honoring activist's work

Portland's annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and achievements will celebrate its 20th anniversary Monday.

'The fact that we're reaching a 20th year is a tribute to the community support we have here in Portland. We're not only standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, we're standing on the shoulders of those who are still here,' said Ken Berry, secretary and executive producer of the World Arts Foundation, which stages the annual 'Keep the Dream Alive' program.

This year's event starts at noon in the Robert Grady Ford Auditorium of Jefferson High School. Ford was the Portland school district's first black teacher.

A sponsors exhibition hall is being set up in the school's cafeteria, where food also will be served.

'The exhibition hall will be a place where people can get together and network, which is something that has always happened and one of the reasons that so many people come. And of course they also get something to eat, which is important because it is a long program,' Berry said.

The annual tribute began as a daylong program on the KBOO (90.7 FM) radio station before moving to Whitaker Middle School and then Jefferson High in North Portland. It was held at the University of Portland the past two years but is moving back to Jefferson because of a scheduling conflict.

'We actually outgrew Jefferson some years ago, but when we realized we had to move again, we decided to bring the program back where most people came to it and think smarter about how to use the space,' said Berry, noting that the program will be broadcast live in the cafeteria this year for those who can't fit in the auditorium.

This year's program will feature speeches by dignitaries and community leaders, African drummers, a 20th-Anniversary Gospel Re-union Choir and an excerpt from the play 'For Colored Girls Only É .'

Admission is a recommended donation of $3 or three cans of food.

Several other local events also are scheduled to celebrate King's life. They include:

• The 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The keynote speaker is community activist and public affairs professional Nathaniel 'Nate' Miles. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at offices of The Skanner newspaper, 415 N. Killingsworth St., which sponsors the event.

• A talk by Juan Williams, National Public Radio senior correspondent, at 7 p.m. Monday at Portland State University's Smith Memorial Union, 1825 S.W. Broadway. The event will also feature the Woodlawn Elementary School dancers. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $5 for PSU students, and are available through TicketMaster locations or at the PSU ticket office, 1825 S.W. Broadway, Room 102.

• A mural honoring King will be unveiled at 9 a.m. Feb. 1 at the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center, 7211 S.E. 62nd Ave. It was designed by Sam Lowe, an artist with the youth mentoring organization P:EAR, with guidance from mural artist Ping Khaw, and completed by 10 participants from Portland Impact's Youth Mentoring to Achieve Potential Program.

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