The annual celebration intended to honor slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will get underway on Friday night. The 2020 MLK Weekend Celebration will be hosted by the MLK Commission of Rome and Northwest Georgia.

This four day celebration, the largest of its kind in Georgia, has taken place in Rome since MLK Day was declared a national holiday in 1986, according to the Commission’s Alvin Jackson.

The first event for this year will be the “Back Down Memory Lane” Birthday Extravaganza on Friday night at 6:30 pm at the Rome City Auditorium. There will be fashion and talent shows, along with Caribbean dancers.

Lovejoy Baptist Church, 436 Branham Avenue, will be the site of the Family Prayer Breakfast on Saturday morning at 8:30 am. The Reverend Dr. Robert Brown, Senior Pastor of Rome’s First United Methodist Church, will serve as the keynote speaker. The MLK Jr. Community Children’s Choir will perform at the event. Tickets are on sale now at the cost of $15 each or $95 for a table of seven at Kroger.

An Ecumenical Service will be held at Garden Lakes Baptist Church, located at 2200 Redmond Circle, on Sunday night at 5 pm. The keynote speaker will be Reverend Timothy McDonald of Atlanta. There will also be a performance by the MLK Jr. Community Choir.

The highlight of this MLK Weekend Celebration will be the annual Freedom March. Participants are asked to meet at 11 am at the corner of First Avenue and Broad Street. The march will get underway at 11:30 am and will traverse Broad Street to the City Auditorium, where a special program will take place at noon. Meredith Lilly, Director of External Affairs for DeKalb County, will be the speaker for the Noon program, which will be followed by a free lunch at the Rome Civic Center.

Jackson says that the local Freedom March has grown over the years. It now draws a diverse crowd of hundreds of participants. That is a far cry from the first march, spearheaded by Jackson, that drew just five marchers on a snowy, icy day.

Marches were among those non-violent tools that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to spread his message of peace and unity, indicates Jackson.

Those who would like additional information about the 2020 MLK Weekend Celebration may reach out Jackson at (706) 346-7202 or Sundai Stevenson at (706) 346-7524.