Byline: Rebecca Woolington The Register-Guard
Organizers of the Lane County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration are urging members of the public this year to actively honor King - through celebrating and serving.
Monday will mark the 25th year of the celebration complete with dynamic speakers and performers. Organizers say they are proud of both the success and longevity of the program.
"To me, it means a lot," said Linda Hamilton, chairwoman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Committee. "His legacy is carrying on."
The event, with the theme "community unity," is free and open to the public at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts' Silva Concert Hall at 6 p.m. A reception beginning at 4 p.m., in the Hult Center lobby will precede the program, which is expected to attract 500 people.
Organizing this year's event, Hamilton said, didn't come without challenges. The committee felt the effects of the sour economy, with some businesses unable to pitch in their usual share - or any funds at all. The celebration also will not be holding its annual silent auction.
Despite the economic challenges, Hamilton said she's excited for this year's celebration, which will feature damali ayo, as its keynote speaker. Ayo, who does not capitalize her name, gives lectures at schools across the country and her professional endeavors include art, comedy and writing.
The Los Angeles resident has a distinct way of discussing race and human relationships, using humor to tackle tough subjects, through her self-described "standup/smackdown" style.
Ayo received her bachelor's degree from Brown University and her Master's of Fine Arts degree from Portland State University. She is the author of "How to Rent a Negro," a satirical examination of race relations, and of the new book, "Obamistan! Land Without Racism: Your Guide to the New America," a satirical travel guide designed to bust the myth that racism no longer exists in the United States.
Hamilton describes ayo has a "young, energetic speaker whom people will relate to." Having ayo at the event, Hamilton said, will "kick off a good 2010" for the community and cause attendees to think about pressing issues surrounding race in contemporary society. Ayo will lead a workshop at the University of Oregon on Tuesday. …