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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration reset for Feb. 5

Feb. 5—The 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration at Missouri Southern State University, will be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday in the Ron Richard Athletic Center, formerly known as the North End Zone facility.

The event was postponed from Jan. 15 because of icy weather.

It will be held in collaboration with the Joplin chapter of the NAACP and feature new Joplin police Chief Richard Pearson as the keynote speaker.

"This event typically commemorates the legacy of Dr. King by highlighting his tireless efforts in civil rights, social justice and equality," said Lori Musser, MSSU's coordinator for the event. "It allows us to honor and reflect upon Dr. King's teachings, principles and activism, promoting diversity, inclusivity and equality for all who attend."

"Living the Dream: It Starts with Me — Spreading Hope, Courage and Unity" is the theme for the event. Music will be performed by the marimba band Kufara. Hors d'oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. with the program starting at 7 p.m.

The theme harkens back to King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, presented at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, and known as one of the most celebrated and analyzed speeches in history.

Musser said in December that featuring Pearson as the speaker was a chance for him to introduce himself to the community.

"We felt like — being new to our community and his wide variety of background and all the different agencies he's been involved in — we just thought it would be interesting to hear his perspective and it might even draw in more community members," Musser said.