The Changes And Challenges Facing The MLK Birthday Celebration Planning Committee

Organizers of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. coast-wide celebration say this year's schedule of events will be much larger than past years.

This year's Battle of the Bands will have eight bands instead of four. Organizers say the Health, Legal and Business Fair will also be bigger and better.

"It will include HIV/Aids testing provided by the Mississippi State Health Department. That is very, very important for our community," says Event Organizer Dr. Gilbert Mason Jr.

This year's fair will offer a seminar-workshop format.

But, with a larger event comes even bigger challenges.

"The event is getting larger, and it's taking more funding to get it into fruition," says Event organizer James Crowell.

The celebration will cost about $40,000 dollars. Right now, organizers say they are about $10,000 dollars short.

After applying for grants and pursuing other funding options, the comittee ran into a few obstacles, but, organizers say they are closer to reaching their financial goals.

"We received some checks today from some of the casinos and condo developers who are responding to help us put these events on," says Crowell.

Ultimately, Crowell says it will take a community-wide effort to make this year a success while carrying on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Dr. King believed in everybody coming together and working together to make this nation great because he was a person of God, and God love all people."

Here's a complete listing of the weekend of events:

  • On Friday, January 18th, the celebration will kick off with a Gospel Extravaganza at 7:00 p.m. at the Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport.
  • On Saturday, January 19th, there will be a Health, Legal and Business Fair at 9:00 a.m. at the First Missionary Baptist Church off Pass Road in Gulfport.
  • Sunday, January 20, there will be a coast-wide program at 3:00p.m. at the Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church.  The President of the North Carolina State NAACP will be the keynote speaker.

The weekend will wrap up on Monday, January 21st, with a coast-wide parade which kicks off at 11:00 at Yankie Stadium in Biloxi, featuring,  the Battle of the Bands.