Howard County's Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations focus on uniting community

Howard County's Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations focus on uniting community
A group works together on Jan. 18, 2016 to pack meals for the hungry as Glen Mar United Methodist Church in Ellicott City holds its second annual Day of Service on MLK Jr. Day. This year the county will host the service day, its annual program and the NAACP will host a 5K race. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Howard County’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations will feature a new event this year with a 5K race hosted by the county’s NAACP chapter.

Dubbed the “BithEnergy MLK Unity 5K,” the event will be at 8 a.m. Saturday at Columbia Gateway Drive, and is in an effort to “unify the community” around the celebration of the civil rights movement, said Howard County Branch NAACP President Willie Flowers.


Flowers said the branch is hoping to bring out more than 300 people to the race, which also includes a family fun run and walk. The event is in collaboration with the Howard County Police Department and is co-sponsored by local companies BithEnergy and PRISM Compliance Management.

“People who run know that when you’re out there running you don’t worry about anybody’s race or social economic situation, we’re all partners in running and that’s the way society should be,” Flowers said.

Participants can register for the event on race day; registration is $40 for adults, $20 for children under 12 and the kids fun run is free. Proceeds from the race will go to support the branch’s programs.

Other events throughout the weekend include the county’s 33rd annual holiday program. This year however, the format of the event is set to change and focus on arts performances and student participation, said Helaine Jeffers, who serves on the county’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission.

Sunday’s program, which typically features a keynote speaker, will instead have several student performances, ranging from dance to music. Jeffers said the hope is to bring together more young people from across the county.

The theme for this year’s celebration is a quote from King: “If I cannot do great things, I can do great things in a small way.”

“In today’s times it becomes more important for us to realize we are all one,” Jeffers said. “We have to look at the world as a unit, a group that’s all struggling for human rights for everyone.”

The program will be held at Reservoir High School with a reception at 2 p.m. and the program beginning at 3 p.m.

Howard County MLK Weekend Events

Saturday, Jan. 13:

BithEnergy MLK Unity 5K: 6940 Gateway Drive Columbia, 8 a.m., on-site registration begins at 7 a.m.

Sunday, Jan. 14:

Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration: Reservoir High School, 11550 Scaggsville Road Fulton, 3 p.m.; reception begins at 2 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 15:

Day of Service: Howard County Government Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, 8 a.m.Register at