ATLANTA- January 10, 2017 The King Center CEO Dr. Bernice A. King announces plans for the 2017 commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The seven-day King Holiday Observance includes a broad range of unique educational programs, activities and events, beginning Tuesday, January 10, and concluding on Monday, January 16, the 31st Anniversary of the King Holiday.

As is our custom every year, The King Center invites the public to participate in a variety of activities that reflect the spirit of inclusion, service, and brotherly love that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. promulgated. The theme for this year’s commemoration is Remember! Celebrate! Act!: King’s Legacy of Peace with Justice for Our World. This theme underscores Dr. King’s commitment not just to racial justice, but to nonviolence and world peace, and is especially poignant as we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” speech on April 4, 1967, exactly one year to the day before he was assassinated. “Beyond Vietnam” was an impassioned call for an end to the Vietnam War and an eloquent assertion of the relationship between civil rights and peace movement.

The week’s first event is the Kick-Off Reception, which is free and open to the public. The reception will take place on January 10, 2017 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The King Center in The Yolanda D. King Theatre For The Performing Arts.

This year’s Kick-off Reception will also include the inaugural presentation of the Dream Forward Community Service Awards. These awards celebrate individuals and entities that have supported The King Center and have had a positive impact on the community through the philosophy and methodology of Dr. King. Recipients will come from a variety of areas, such as Media, Community & Social Justice, Environmental, International, and Spirituality & Faith. This year’s honorees include Bill Schneider (Vice-president and General Manager of WAGA-TV (FOX 5), Laura Turner Sydell (Chairperson of Captain Planet Foundation), Mary Frances Bowley (Founder and Executive director of Wellspring Living), Ryan Kurtz (Consul General of Italy), and emerging leader Rev. Jared Sawyer.

On Friday, January 13th, the annual Book Signing will be held from 5pm-8pm at The King Center in The Yolanda D. King Theatre For The Performing Arts.  This year’s book signing will feature Coretta Scott King’s new memoir (as told to the Reverend Dr. Barbara Reynolds), My Life, My Love, My Legacy.The King Center CEO, Dr. Bernice A. King, the youngest child of Dr. and Mrs. King, will join Dr. Reynolds for an intimate conversation about the book. Although My Life, My Love, My Legacy will be officially published on January 17th, advance copies will be exclusively available at the book signing and via pre-order from The King Center’s bookstore ( Other members of the King family will also sign copies of their respective books at the event.

Saturday, January 14th is the return of the Salute to Greatness Awards Gala at the Hyatt Regency at 7pm. The King Center’s premier yearly fundraiser, the black-tie gala is a mainstay of Atlanta’s social calendar. This year’s honorees are civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and Costco Warehouse Corporation, CEO and President W. Craig Jelinekwill accept the award. The Coretta Scott King A.N.G.E.L Award and the Christine K. Farris Legacy of Service Award will also be presented as well as the inaugural Yolanda D. King Higher Ground Award, which will be presented to renowned actor and humanitarian Edward James Olmos.

The culmination of the King Holiday Observance is the Commemorative Service on January 16th from 10am-1pm at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. An opportunity for the community to join in praise and reflection, the Commemorative Service honors Dr. King’s life, work, and legacy. The service will feature a keynote address by Father Michael Pfleger, special tribute by Senator Bernie Sanders, and performances by Darlene McCoy, Minister Micah Stampley, The Craig Lewis Band, Tap Dancers – Freddie and Teddie, and theworld-renowned Korean Christian Children’s Choir.

The week’s final event is the Beloved Community Talk: Let’s Bridge the Racial Divide Across Urban, Suburban and Rural America, on the evening of January 16th from 5pm-7:30pm at The King Center in The Yolanda D. King Theatre For The Performing Arts.   A dynamic forum and a space for having difficult, yet needed, conversations, The Beloved Community Talk focuses on deconstructing systems and issues without attacking people, in the spirit of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence. Confirmed guests include Dr. Bernice A. King ( CEO, The King Center),  Dr. Alveda King (King Center Board Member and Alveda King Ministries), Senator Emanuel Jones (D-GA) [Greetings],Gov. John Kasich (R-OH),Kasim Reed (Mayor, Atlanta)[Greetings], Bakari Sellers (CNN Commentator; Former SC State Senator) Mary Pat Hector (National Youth Director at National Action Network), Adam Cook  (Sons of the Confederate Veterans), Chris Crass (Community Organizer Activist), Carl Eli (Founder of John 8:23 ministries), Michael Thurmond  (CEO-Elect, DeKalb County) [Greetings] , Dr. Umar Johnson (Psychologist; Activist), Penny Nance (CEO and President of Concerned Women for America) Daryl Davis (Author & Musician), Scott Shephard (Former KKK member), Daniel Blackman (Social Entrepreneur). Our distinguished moderator will be Byron Pitts (ABC News Journalist and Author).

This event is in partnership with  The Martin Luther King, Jr. Advisory Council  

This event is sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

In addition to these highlights, there will be additional events throughout the week. A comprehensive schedule is attached.

The King Center's CEO, Dr. Bernice A. King, stated, “It is a moving experience to join with people from the local community and around the world to celebrate my father’s life and work. With the current polarized climate, it is my hope that this King Holiday will provide an opportunity for people to commit to working toward the Beloved Community. I believe this will happen when people dare to connectand bridge across ideological and cultural differences. I am also deeply grateful for the continued support of the corporations, businesses, and individuals who underwrite our yearly Salute to Greatness Awards Gala, an event which helps us raise the funds that further our educational work training people from all walks of life to embrace Nonviolence365™ as a lifestyle. Please, Join us and Let's bridge the divide.”

For more information about the events for this year’s King Holiday Observance please log onto For sponsorship opportunities contact Dr. Hilda Tompkins at

About Us

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center) is a 501(c)3 organization established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The King Center is the official living memorial and programmatic nonprofit organization committed to educating the world on the life, legacy, and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Center serves to inspire new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today. The King Center’s premiere educational initiative, Nonviolence365™, is based on Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and engages participants from various sectors of society, including emerging and next generation leaders, in modules and exercises that enhance communication, leadership, interpersonal and conflict reconciliation skills.