King Center Announces Plans for 2012 MLK Holiday Observance

1/6/2012 King Center News

Program to Set Stage for Exciting New Era for King Center

ATLANTA…The King Center has announced special plans for the 2012 national holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The program begins Saturday, January 7, 2012 and continues through January 16th, the MLK holiday. All events, except where indicated otherwise, are free of charge.

One of the highlights of the annual program, the annual ‘Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner’ will be held on Saturday, January 14th at 6:30 p.m. at Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency Hotel Centennial Ballroom. The Dinner, which is The Center’s major fund-raising event, will honor Mr. Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn and Partner of Greylock Partners and Ms. Sheila C. Johnson, founder and C.E.O. of  Salamander Hotels and Resorts, vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and president of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

King Center President and CEO Martin Luther King III said that, in addition to the awards presentations, “The King Center will unveil exciting new plans for a dramatic modernization of the Center’s Freedom Hall Complex site facilities, as well as innovative program initiatives.” He will also discuss plans for creating state-of-the-art, interactive exhibits and a new curriculum development program to set the standard for nonviolence education and training, youth leadership development, advocacy and awareness. Mr. King said that the Center “is poised for a new era of unprecedented growth and development, both physically and programmatically, to make The King Center an even more inspiring place for learning and engagement.”

Mr. King, who has launched an ambitious 5-year plan to reinvigorate and transform The King Center into a world-class institution, will also be reporting on The King Center’s recent accomplishments, including the launching of the Library Documentation Project, a partnership with JPMorgan Chase to digitize Dr. King’s papers, and a partnership with Syracuse University to digitize audio recordings and film and video of Dr. King’s speeches, sermons, interviews and leadership. The digital development of these unique audio-visual resources will be made available as a global educational resource for the first time via the internet.

One of The King Center’s highest honors, the Salute to Greatness Award is presented at the annual fund-raising dinner to recognize individuals and corporations or organizations that exemplify excellence in leadership and a commitment to social responsibility in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ms. Johnson is being honored for her pioneering business leadership as a founding partner of Black Entertainment Television, as CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, a leading luxury hospitality chain and as the only African American woman to have ownership of three professional sports teams (the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitols and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics) among many other business interests. She has produced four inspiring documentary films and served as an active Board member of several major artistic and athletic foundations. Ms. Johnson is also being cited for her energetic humanitarian work as a Global Ambassador for CARE, her tireless efforts to promote awareness and treatment of infectious diseases in Africa and AIDS in the nation’s capitol, to name a just a few of her active concerns

The King Center is honoring Mr. Hoffman for his innovative leadership as one of Silicon  Valley’s most creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and ‘angel’ investors in influential internet companies. His leadership has been instrumental in expanding LinkedIn’s membership to over 100 million subscribers in 200 countries, and his involvement in Greylock Partners has been cited as a major factor of the firm’s leading role in funding a number of Silicon Valley’s cutting-edge industries. Hoffman has been instrumental in empowering low-income youth with educational opportunities in top colleges through his leadership in Questbridge and in fostering environmental citizenship and the next generation of ‘green entrepreneurs’ as a member of the Provost Council of College Eight UCSC. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his active support of causes ranging from civil and human rights, political prisoners, disaster relief and alleviation of poverty and hunger.

As The King Center’s primary fund-raising event, the Annual Salute to Greatness Dinner has become one of the largest dinners held in Atlanta during the calendar year, with many nationally-known public figures and some of Atlanta’s top community leaders participating. Some of the recipients of the Salute to Greatness Award in recent years have included: (then) Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; Ben & Jerry’s; Oprah Winfrey; The Portman Companies; Bono; Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; Quincy Jones; Sara Lee Corporation; Tony Bennett; AOL Time Warner; Stevie Wonder; the Coca-Cola Company and Coretta Scott King (posthumously), to name just a few.

There will be a reception prior to the dinner in the foyer outside the ballroom beginning at 5:30 p.m. and an ‘Afterglow’ reception in the Regency Ballroom following the dinner. Sponsors of the Salute to Greatness Awards Dinner include: JPMorgan Chase; the Coca-Cola Company; Mercedes-Benz USA; Aetna; Target; Delta Air Lines; Georgia-Pacific LLC, The Home Depot; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Norfolk Southern and many others. For more information about Salute to Greatness Dinner sponsorships and tickets, call Judy Hanenkrat at(404) 526-8974 or email

Another highlight of the King Center MLK birthday observance, the Annual Commemorative Service held on Monday, January 16th, the King Holiday, will feature as keynote speaker one of America’s most dynamic orators, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III, Senior Pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Members of the King family and a host of elected officials and public figures will also participate in the service.