The public is invited to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Jan. 15 with a special walk that highlights Newton people and stories that not many people know.
For the 2nd year, the Newton Community for Racial Justice has organized the walk, which will focus on some of the history of Newton’s Mexican-American and African-American communities.
“Racial Justice in Newton: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” is a family-friendly event that offers a choice of two start times: either 3 or 3:30 p.m. at the Newton Recreation Center, 415 N. Poplar St. in Newton.
The volunteer tour guides are Larry Lee, co-chair of the Newton Community for Racial Justice and pastor of All Nations Church in Newton, for one of the groups, and Michelle Armster, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee-Central States in North Newton, for the other.
The first session, which takes place at the Newton Rec Center, will be “Celebrating 70 years of Mexican-American Fast-Pitch Softball.” The storyteller is Raymond Olais, Newton High School art teacher. Lori Hein, NRC director, will be the host.
From there, the walk moves to the Carriage Factory Gallery (128 E. 6th St., Newton) to recognize Newton natives and artists Vernon Rickman and Shirley Elliott.
There will be works by both artists on display. The storytellers are Beverley Buller, Beth Burns, Laura Thomas and Lisa Scott, with host Omer Galle, retired educator from North Newton.
The final location is the Fox Theatre (518 N. Main Street, the home of The Gathering church), where Richard Williams, Jack Thaw and Justin Thaw will tell stories about “Confronting Segregation and Discrimination in Newton High School Athletics.”
Members of the Newton High School pep band will play at this stop. The host is Sara Dick, co-chair of the Newton Community for Racial Justice and general manager of the Newton Et Cetera Shop.
There will be an NRC bus to transport anyone for whom walking is difficult from the NRC to the other two sites and then back to the NRC at the end
There is no charge to participate in the walk, which is planned to take about 90 minutes, and no reservations are required – simply show up at your chosen time.
For more information, call Sara Dick at the Newton Et Cetera Shop, 316-283-9461, or Larry Lee, 316-288-3548.
The public is invited to conclude the Newton observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in the annual celebration at Bethel College, 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center, which is also free and open to everyone.
Peace activist Ken Nwadike Jr., probably best known as the Free Hugs Guy, will speak, and several Bethel students will read poetry, both original and selected.
A freewill offering will be taken to support the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Scholarship at Bethel.