Danville could plan event for 50th anniversary of MLK assassination

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The City of Danville may set up an ad hoc committee to plan community-wide events in honor of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Danville City Commissioner J.H. Atkins made the suggestion of holding a “Danville celebration” in commemoration of the anniversary and forming the committee to plan it at Monday night’s Danville City Commission meeting.

“I think that’s a great idea — put me down,” Danville Mayor Mike Perros said.

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Atkins said he would like to gather names of people from area groups who would be willing to serve on the committee. He said he wants to see an event celebrating King that gets away from commercialization of the civil rights leader’s name.

File photo
Danville City Commissioner J.H. Atkins participates in a commission meeting in November. Atkins proposed Monday forming an ad hoc committee to plan a community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April this year.

“What’s happening is that around the country, people are celebrating this event and it’s become a commercialized event,” Atkins said. “I don’t want to honor a man of that stature by making a commercialized event.”

Atkins said there are two significant dates surrounding King’s death: The first is when King died — April 4, 1968.

“What we don’t remember — a lot of people don’t remember — is that on the eighth of April, 1968, after his assassination, Coretta Scott King went back to Memphis and led the march that her husband didn’t get to lead. It was a silent march.

“So I’ve got the fourth of April and the eighth of April on my brain and my heart to do something someplace in this community.”

Perros said he is interested in Atkins’ idea because “I think lost on Martin Luther King Day is the content of Martin Luther King.”

“Only once have I heard anyone in Danville in the last seven or eight years give any kind of content about the man, his character and his wisdom,” Perros said. “I’d certainly like to see us go back to that on an annual basis in this community. Because there’s certainly a lot there that can be shared without getting boring.”

Danville City Attorney Stephen Dexter said the best way forward for Atkins’ suggestion is to have officials suggest names for the ad hoc committee prior to the next meeting of the Danville City Commission. Then Dexter and City Manager Ron Scott can draft a resolution that would outline the goals and objectives and formally setup the committee.