ALBANY -- The Albany community will honor the memory and message of Martin Luther King Jr. with a dinner at the Albany Civic Center Jan. 16, according to Billie J. Robinson, co-chair of the King Day Celebration Committee.
Robinson, who shares the chair position with Christopher Cohilas, said the program will begin at 5 p.m and feature as keynote speaker Grady Caldwell II, a former Albany minister whose church is now in Griffin.
Caldwell completed his public education at Albany High School in 1967, Robinson said, and received a degree in business administration from Albany State College. According to information from The New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin, where Caldwell is founding pastor, the pastor grew up in Mount Zion Baptist Church in Albany and earned a Master of Theology degree from Christian Life School of Theology, Beacon University.
Caldwell currently serves as chairman of the board of New Mercy Community Services Inc. and is involved in other religious and community activities in the Griffin area.
According to Robinson the ASU Gospel Choir will perform at the event, and the presentation of colors will be made by the MCLB Color Guard. In addition, there is a special display of artwork created by winners of the Children of the Dream art competition. In that contest, children from several grade levels in the Dougherty County School System were encouraged to create works that illustrate the dream of Martin Luther King. Winners received substantial cash awards.
Also presented during the evening will be a special Dream Award, meant to honor six individuals nominated for their selfless work to better their community, said Robinson.
"We have special forms to help people with the nominating process," Robinson said. "A person may be nominated for something he is doing to help the young people in our community or the elderly, just as examples. The six most deserving people will be determined by a board based on information given."
Tickets for the dinner celebration are $20 each, according to Robinson, or tables may be purchased for $500. The advantage of purchasing an eight-person table is mostly one of certainty in reservation.
"When you have a table, you know just where you'll be and who you'll be with," he said.
Robinson said he is concerned with ticket sales and revenue from the celebration dinner this year, noting that income generated from the event is the lowest its been in the five years he's been involved.
"I guess it's because people are holding on to what they have these days," Robinson said. "We still have 45 or 50 tables to sell before we're where we were last year."
Robinson said all receipts from the event over actual expenses will go to the Albany Civil Rights Institute and to support next year's celebration. A special appeal for donations will be made to those attending the event by institute board member C. W. Grant.
Robinson said that those interested in purchasing a table for the event or receiving more information should call (229) 888-5737.