Community celebrates Dr. King 18 years

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Aerin Johnson

Martin Luther King Jr. was honored with the community’s annual Martin Luther King Community Celebration on Jan. 20,for the 18th year.

Yvonne Samuel, former associate pastor at First Congregational Church, started the celebration in January of 1995. After that, more churches started to get involved and so did the school district.

Superintendent Sarah Riss has attended the celebration for the past 11 years.

“We originally met in churches, and when we began meeting at Steger Sixth Grade Center, we welcomed more members from within the community,” said Rev. Dr. Blythe Denham Kieffer, an associate pastor at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church.

Kieffer has been involved with the celebration for the past 18 years. Her high school experiences are a part of way she is involved with the MLK celebration.

“I attended Thornridge High School in the suburbs of Chicago during the 1970s,” Kieffer said, later saying, “I found my own life enriched by friends I would never have met and my faith deepened through a new understanding of the injustices that need to be overcome.”

The march started at city hall and attendees walked to the Steger Sixth Grade Center. A dinner was prepared with donations from Schnuck’s, Dierburg’s and C.J. Muggs. Afterwards, people went into the auditorium for the presentation.

Last year about 300 people from several St. Louis communities came to the Martin Luther King Celebration. About 100 marched from city hall. The same amount of people this year marched from city hall.

During the presentation, the MLK Essay contest winners were presented and given $100 savings bonds. This was done in honor of Ras Jones after his unexpected death during one of the celebrations, even though the essay contest has been done since the celebration was started. About 180 essays were entered into the contest.

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