By Samantha Joseph
STUART -- A series of events in the weeks leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day will pay tribute to the fallen clergyman and civil rights leader.
Beginning Jan. 16, East Stuart Main Street, the city of Stuart and Martin County officials have partnered to host the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
Events are set for several locations around the city, and culminate with a parade and celebration on Jan. 21, the federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January to pay tribute to Dr. King.
"We're pleased to do this because we want to bring the awareness, especially to the young people," said Philip W. Harvey, president of East Stuart Main Street.
"You have to know where you come from to get to where you're going in life. Martin Luther King contributed so much to where we are today. It's important we remember that. This is about remembrance."
The events kickoff with a free legal forum by the Ladies of Justice, to discuss civil rights and personal freedoms. The event is set for 6-8 p.m. at the Tenth Street Recreation Center, located at 724 Southeast 10th St.
At 4 p.m. on Jan. 17 a youth oratorical competition took place at the city commission chambers, located at 121 S.W. Flagler Ave.
Attorney Jean Laws-Scott held a reception that evening to feature the works of the Highway Men, black landscape artists who sold their work by the roadside because they had no gallery. The reception took place from 6 p.m. at 872 S. Colorado Ave.
On Jan. 18, a candlelight vigil at Martin Luther King Jr. Park will allow participants a moment of silent to remember the national leader who inspired his followers with a message of peaceful resistance. The Gertrude Walden Child Care Center will serve refreshments to participants.
An interfaith gospel service, set for Jan. 20, will take place at the Love Temple Church of God by Faith, located at 505 S.E. Florida St.
The celebrations cap off on Jan. 21 with a parade beginning at 11 a.m. from the Tenth Street Recreational Center to Memorial Park on 100 S.E. Ocean Blvd; start at 11 a.m. The day-long event will feature a concert in the park beginning at 3 p.m.
All events are free of charge and open to the public.
For more information, call (772) 600-1248.