0121_dnr_Bridgewater March_

Hundreds of people gathered in Bridgewater on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last year and honored the civil rights leader with a march from Oakdale Park to Bridgewater College. The town and Bridgewater College will host the march again on Monday.

To commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., several events will take place on Monday paying tribute to the late civil rights leader.

With the help of local organizations and schools, those wanting to participate can do so through free events ranging from marches, speeches and community service.

To start off the day, the 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast will take place at 7:30 a.m. at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center, 620 Simms Ave., Harrisonburg. The breakfast is hosted by the Harrisonburg Sigma Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Harrisonburg Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.

The breakfast, which is free and open to the public, will feature speaker Art Dean, executive director of Campus and Community Access and Inclusion and James Madison University.

The organization is asking for donations of gently used or new eyeglasses.

Later in the evening, JMU’s Center for Multicultural Student Services will host Ray Suarez for a speaking event at 6 p.m. in Wilson Hall Auditorium. Suarez has spent 14 years as a correspondent and anchor at PBS News Hour. He covered 9/11, four presidential elections and reported from the Haitian earthquake, among other global disasters.

The event is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, members of the JMU community will participate in a march beginning at 3:50 p.m. Those joining will march to reflect on the contributions of King while making several stops before concluding with a “speak out” in Madison Union Ballroom.

The week will conclude with student volunteers partnering with the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority.


Bridgewater College and the town of Bridgewater will host a community gathering at Oakdale Park, where guest speakers from the college and town will provide remarks. After the ceremony, participants will march from Oakdale Park to Bridgewater College, where a reception will be held in the lobby of the Kline Campus Center.

After the march, Bridgewater College students will participate in several service projects near campus, including painting a home to refugees, moving contents of the Bridgewater Retirement Community library into a new space, cleaning the banks of the North River and tending to the garden at the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren.

The evening will conclude with New Yorker columnist Jelani Cobb, who will give a talk titled “The Half-Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today” starting at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall.

Cobb, who was the winner of the 2015 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, has written articles about race and the police and injustice.

The commemoration will continue on Wednesday with a screening of the documentary "It Is Well" regarding the life of civil rights leader Bennie Mitchell Jr.

Eastern Mennonite University

Eastern Mennonite University will honor King starting on Sunday with a worship service in the Northeast Neighborhood with Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, at the Simms Center.

A luncheon will be held at John Wesley United Methodist Church later on Sunday, along with a barbershop talk in the Royal Treatment student lounge hosted by Tyrone Sprague, with Sprague’s Barbershop in Harrisonburg.

On Monday, professor Jalane Schmidt will provide a keynote address and a two-part training on campus activism.

Schmidt is a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and an organizer with the Charlottesville chapter of Black Lives Matter. In 2017, she helped to organize counterprotests against white supremacy groups during the Unite the Right rally.

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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