Residents will gather at the county courthouse Monday morning to participate the annual march and celebration honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of this year’s celebration is, “Unity not Hate.”
After meeting at 10 a.m., marchers will walk to the Douglass Community Center, which served as Loudoun’s first high school for black students until segregation ended in Loudoun in 1968.
Following the march, refreshments will be served at the community center. There will be musical performances, presentations, inspirational remarks by members of the community, and a keynote address by Pastor Michelle Thomas.
The founder of Holy and Whole Life Changing Ministries began her work for civil rights as a high school student in Forsyth County, GA, in 1987. In 1994, she started an IT consulting firm. Since coming to Loudoun, Thomas started her church and a STEP preschool. She also has led efforts to better protect and document the history and experiences of the county’s black population, including the preservation of the Belmont Slave Cemetery and the creation of the Loudoun Freedom Center. Last year, she was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve on the Loudoun County Heritage Commission.
For those who are unable to join the march, special activities and entertainment will take place at the community center from 10 to 11:30 a.m. There also will be a community forum offered from 9 to 10 a.m. featuring a dialogue between youth and elders.
Attendees are encouraged to participate in a canned food drive to benefit Loudoun Hunger Relief, which has special need for nonperishable meat products. Drop-off area for the food drive will be at the community center from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The founding sponsors for the event are the Loudoun NAACP, Douglass Alumni Association, Bluemont Concert Series and the Baha’i Community of Loudoun.