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MLK Day event going strong in Butler County after 20 years
It started with a mother’s desire to teach her children the reason for their January day off school and two decades later, Gail Webster’s ambition continues to touch thousands of lives in Butler County.
Live the Dream: Our Declaration of Unity is a formal observation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday hosted by the people of West Chester and Liberty townships. Webster (pictured right), a resident of West Chester, had the idea for a local event in the mid-1990s after finding none north of downtown Cincinnati.
“Each year, around the MLK holiday, I would get this very uneasy feeling that something was amiss, or lacking, in our town. Why didn’t somebody do something?” Webster remembers asking herself.
So Gail Webster did just that. The coming celebration marks the 20th anniversary of her dream.
On Monday, Jan. 21, the public is invited for a half-mile march beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the clock tower on The Square @ Union Centre, 9285 Centre Pointe Road. The march circles around the MidPointe Library to Lakota West High School, 8940 Union Centre Blvd., where all are welcomed inside for music and an awards program followed by a free luncheon and fellowship with neighbors.
Live the Dream: Our Declaration of Unity began in 1999 with a student contest to choose a name for the annual observance. A year later, another winning contestant designed the current logo and participants were invited to mix and mingle over refreshments. The event has continued to grow and evolve ever since.
The march portion was added in 2003 and the luncheon, made possible through generous donations from area restaurants, was added to follow the march in 2005. While locations of these activities have been shuffled over the years, the activities themselves remain traditions to this day.
From the beginning Webster says she’s been motivated to keep Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy alive for future generations, so the student contest has remained a staple of the event. This year’s theme is, “Common Ground,” and kids in grades K-12 living in the Lakota District were invited to enter pieces of art and writing over the fall. There were 495 entries and winners were chosen in 14 categories. All entries will be on display and all winners recognized at the 11:15 a.m. ceremony at Lakota West.
Webster says her pursuits have always been guided by her faith. Over years of networking and building community, she has assembled a team of friends, neighbors, churchgoers, school and faith leaders, government officials and volunteers to help coordinate activities and, she says, the door is always open for others to join the planning committee. Call 513-860-4049 or email email@example.com for details.
Anyone interested in singing with this year’s intergenerational community choir – all talent levels welcomed – is encouraged to attend at least one rehearsal:
- Thursday, Jan. 17 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 7393 Dimmick Road
- Monday, Jan. 21 from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. at Lakota West High School, 8940 Union Centre Blvd.