The University of Virginia’s College at Wise’s Black History Committee will hold its 23rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance March on Jan. 21.
“Our theme this year is unity. We feel like with a lot of things that are going on in the world that we all need to be together — that we all need to unite and put an end to all that we can,” committee chair Debbie Vanover said. “Dr. King was all about changing things through love, not through violence, so we try to continue his message with all of our programs.”
The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Wise Baptist Church with a free community dinner consisting of traditional Southern dishes. After the dinner, a candlelight march through the community will occur at 6:30 p.m. The walk will start at Wise Baptist Church, travel down Main Street and end at The First Church of God. Free transportation will also be offered to take participants between the starting and ending points of the route.
After the march, guest speaker Reverend Sandra L. Jones — a native of Big Stone Gap — will open the night’s program at 7p.m. Following her talk, there will be performances from local area music acts Souls Journey, The Wise Guys, Mt. Sinai Spirituals, Justin Preston and Peter Ryan.
Vanover said that the event has grown in size over the years, and that they expect a turnout of about 100 to 250 people. She also added that she believes it is the longest running Martin Luther King Jr. Day program in the region, and that she strongly encourages students to become a part of what the program has to offer.
“If you come to one event, you’ll want to continue to come to them. You leave there feeling really good,” Vanover said. “We’re all about fellowship and helping our fellow man, and you really feel that presence when you leave a program.”