Hundreds are expected to attend this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration scheduled at noon on Monday at the Wichita State University metroplex.
The event is co-sponsored by WSU and The Greater Wichita Ministerial League. It's an effort to reflect on King's message of hope and pursuit of freedom, as evident in the slain civil rights leader's June 1963 speech in Detroit, where he reminds the crowd of the importance of passing the civil rights bill.
"Let's not fool ourselves," Dr King says. "This bill isn't going to get through if we don't put some work in it and some determined pressure and this is why I've said that in order to get this bill through, we've got to rouse the conscious of the nation and we ought to march to Washington more than 100 thousand (applause)in order to say… that we are determined."
Two months later, more than 200 thousand marched on Washington in August of 1963. The civil rights bill into law July 2, 1964. It outlawed major forms of discrimination against ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. King also spoke of freedom in his speech.
"God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men, God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race," Dr. King says "And I believe that with this philosophy and this determined struggle, we will be able to go on in the days ahead and transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
The theme for Wichita's event is King's Legacy of Peace for Our World. Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little, Chancellor of the University of Kansas is the keynote speaker for the event. She's the first African-American president in KU's 149-year history. King would have turned 85 years old this year.