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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Event to Promote Unity and Service

The 35th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Celebration will be held Monday, January 16 at the Rocky Mount Event Center at 8:00 a.m.


The event is free to the public. Breakfast will be available at 7:00 a.m. before the program begins.


This is the first time the Event Center is hosting the event. This year’s event will feature former Congressman G.K. Butterfield as the keynote speaker. Butterfield served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2004 until 2022.



The Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. shows a stone of hope carved from the mountain of despair, alluding to King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.


Winners of the 35th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Competition, which was held last Saturday at the Imperial Centre, will also deliver speeches as part of the event. The competition was open to middle and high school students who showcased their rhetorical abilities by addressing the themes “The Time is Right to Do What is Right” and “The Time is Right,” respectively. The following students received recognition for their work:


Middle School

1st place, Lua Agbaw, 8th grade, Parker Middle School

2nd place, Timaree Cherry, 8th grade, Rocky Mount Preparatory Middle School

3rd place, Grace Cunningham, 7th grade, New Life Christian Academy


High School

1st place, Anna Riegel, 12th grade, Northern Nash High School

2nd place, Mackenzie Pitt, 11th grade, Nash-Rocky Mount Early College

3rd place, Emma Riegel, 9th grade, Northern Nash High School


There will also be music, and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson and North Carolina Wesleyan President Dr. Evan Duff will be speaking. The event is presented by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and North Carolina Wesleyan University. Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant and PNC Bank are corporate sponsors.


The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission meets each month on the third Tuesday at 5:30 in the third floor Committee Room of City Hall.


The event is intended to carry on Rev. Dr. King’s legacy. Notably, King’s connection to Rocky Mount extends to his early delivery of his iconic and transformative “I Have A Dream” speech. A day of service will follow Monday’s program at the Event Center.

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