PIEDMONT -- The community is invited to celebrate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a commemoration Monday.

The annual program will get underway about 12:15 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring potluck items reflecting their diversity to share before the event, a tradition.

City leaders will speak, including Piedmont Mayor John Chiang and school board President Rick Raushenbush. The Oakland Youth Chorus and Oaktown Jazz Workshop will provide musical entertainment. That will be followed by a screening of King's famous speech, "I Have a Dream."

King, born Jan. 15, 1929, was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was 39. James Earl Ray was convicted of the crime and died in prison in 1998, still proclaiming his innocence.

King, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to advance the cause of civil rights. Piedmont resident Lois Corrin, who organizes the event every year, was listening to King's "I Have a Dream" speech recently. It is as relevant today as it was then, she said.

"The whole conversation about whites and poor people and how our fates are bound together. (King) talked about voter suppression. The demographics have changed significantly. (Minorities) are a more active voting group now."

"We've made huge progress electing Obama for a second term. King's words are so timely," Corrin said. "It is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (by President Abraham Lincoln)."


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A new book by Caldecott prizewinner Kadir Nelson depicts King's life and work in beautiful illustrations. Entitled "I Have a Dream," the book also comes with a CD and is available at most book stores and online outlets.

The celebration is co-sponsored by the city of Piedmont, the Piedmont Asian American Club, the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Club, the Piedmont African American League and the Piedmont League of Women Voters.

IF YOU GO
What: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration
When: 11:30 a.m. Monday
Where: Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Ave.