PIQUA — Carrying on the tradition of an event that began in 2009, the YWCA Piqua will once again pay tribute to the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a free, open-to-the-public celebration intended to show the diversity of the community.
“The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all,” Executive Director Leesa Baker said, explaining the YWCA’s mission. “So that is kind of the background of this event and the reason we feel it’s so important.”
Set for 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, at the YWCA, located at 418 N. Wayne St., the Martin Luther King celebration is made possible with the support of Premier Health/Upper Valley Medical Center.
The hourlong event will begin with an invocation by Maj. Robert Kramer of the Salvation Army, and feature an array of performances and presentations.
Dayton musician Brenda Cobbs-Allen, a vocalist and keyboardist who has played in this area frequently, will perform.
“She’s done some projects for us and Edison, so she’s kind of known around the community and become a friend to us,” Baker said, “She’s very very talented.”
Matthew Galbreath, a student from Piqua Catholic School will perform, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” on violin, and several members of the community will give a readers’ theater-style presentation of a poem titled “Black and White.”
The keynote speaker, Colleen Clemons McMurray, is a Piqua native whose address, “To Be Black — One Woman’s Journey in Ohio,” will chronicle many of her life experiences.
“She was born and raised in Piqua, and is the daughter of Viola and Emerson Clemons, who were very well-known in the community,” Baker said. “She is very involved in the YWCA and her family was as well, especially her mother. We’re very pleased and thrilled that she’s coming back to Piqua.
Baker added, “We really try to show a lot of diversity in the selection of our presenters, as far as ethnicity, age, religion, et cetera. We want to reflect the diversity of our community.”
Belinda M. Paschal can be reached at (937) 451-3341