Events around greater Portland, Mid-Coast Maine to mark annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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PORTLAND — Several events in greater Portland will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, including a March for Justice, a performance of one of King’s sermons and a gospel concert.

The holiday, always the third Monday of January, falls this year on Jan. 16. It celebrates the life of the slain civil rights leader, who said he wanted to be remembered not as a man with hundreds of awards, but as a man who lived his life serving others and acted as a “drum major for justice.”

The March for Justice, sponsored by the Portland branch of the NAACP, is intended to promote economic change. It  will take place Jan. 14 from 2-5:30 p.m. starting at the Preble Street Resource Center with a discussion on poverty and the desire to adopt an “Economic Bill of Rights.”

Following the discussion, participants will march toward Portland City Hall with Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and other local civic and faith leaders.

The Portland NAACP will also sponsor a gospel concert and the 31st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration at the Holiday Inn By The Bay on Spring Street on Jan. 16 from 8-10:30 a.m. The breakfast will feature University of New England students leading a program on the importance of living a healthy life in order to reach one’s fullest potential.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, from 6-8 p.m., Batimbo Beat and students from the UNE will perform a music and gospel concert at Merrill Auditorium, 389 Congress St.; admission is $5.

Also on Sunday, the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, 280 Ocean House Road, will hold a multi-cultural dialog and discussion from 5-7 p.m.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick will join in the celebration of King’s life on Jan. 16 with its annual “Children’s Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.”  Children’s book authors Charlotte Agell and Rohan Henry will be on hand for “illustrated storytelling,” music and activities in remembrance of King.

The Portland Housing Authority, in conjunction with Mayo Street Arts, will perform excerpts from King’s speech “The Drum Major Instinct” on Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. at Mayo Street Arts.

“We chose that speech because the students are very familiar with the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which has become kind of the quintessential King speech, and we wanted to try something different,” Emily Fitch, youth services coordinator for the Portland Housing Authority, said.

“The speech is all about how he wanted to be remembered,” Fitch continued. “He wanted to be remembered for trying to help someone and we are trying to use that speech and thought process to get the kids to think about what they could do to help someone not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but in the rest of their lives.”

Also on Monday there will be a community pasta supper to benefit the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program at Pilgrim House, First Parish Church, 9 Cleaveland St., in Brunswick.  The supper will run from 5-7 p.m. and costs either a donation of non-perishable food or a suggested donation of $5.

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Amber Cronin is The Forecaster news assistant. She can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 115 or Follow her on Twitter: @croninamber.