Interfaith, educational events in Baltimore to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. next week

With today marking the 50th anniversary of the death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., events commemorating the civil rights icon’s life and work continue in Baltimore.

The city is to play host to three such events next week.

Students from two local high schools will spend much of next Wednesday at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History, where they’re to meet with and interview veterans of the civil rights movement in Baltimore.

The 16 students from City Neighbors High School and the Park School of Baltimore, a racially mixed group, will take part in a panel discussion focusing mainly on the protests that ended racial segregation at Gwynn Oak Amusement Park.

After two major protests in July 1963, the park admitted its first African-American patron on Aug. 28, the day King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.

The day is part of a five-week extracurricular series in which the students are spending Wednesdays researching the period and creating video essays on their experience.

Two more commemorations are scheduled for the evening of April 12.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore plans to hold an interfaith and ecumenical prayer service in honor of King’s life at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Archbishop William E. Lori, faith leaders from Baltimore’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, and several city officials will host the event, and the Rev. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock will serve as guest pastor.

Warnock is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church where King was baptized and his father, Martin Luther King Sr., and he served as pastors.

An interfaith choir will include members of Cardinal Shehan School Choir, the group whose performance of Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” went viral on video last year.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is to deliver a lecture on King’s legacy at St. Mary’s Seminary and University at 7:30 the same evening.

Hrabowski was 12 and living in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala., when he chose to become part of the Children’s March, a peaceful protest against segregation by hundreds of children under the guidance of King’s civil rights group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The nation was shocked to see Birmingham law enforcement arrest hundreds of the children, including Hrabowski.

The educator has said he looked out the window of his jail cell to see King addressing the children’s parents at a prayer vigil.

“What you do this day will have an impact on generations as yet unborn," he remembers King saying.

He has said the incident inspired his lifelong mission of pressing for equality through educational excellence.

The address will serve as this year’s version of the John Carroll Lecture, an annual event at the school that honors the memory of Carroll, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Baltimore.

The lecture is “dedicated to advancing greater understanding of the place and role of religion in human society,” according to the school’s website.

jonpitts@baltsun.com

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