Two days of events here will celebrate legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez and the Natchez Festival of Music are again teaming up to present its second Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Sunday.

The event, called Lift Every Voice, will begin at 5 p.m. at the historic Beulah Baptist Church, 710 B. St., across from Cathedral School, which is located on North Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said it is fitting the event is being held at Beulah Baptist Church, which was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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“Beulah Baptist Church has been the scene of many notable events, including historic gatherings during our country’s Civil Rights Movement,” he said.

Mississippi native John Christopher Adams, an operatic tenor, will present familiar and important spirituals and anthems, Gibson said.

“The event promises to be both a reflective and uplifting experience. More than a performance, this will be a journey through the soul-stirring melodies that moved the hearts of our nation during some of its most trying hours,” he said.

The event will also feature a tribute for the founders of the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African American Culture, known as NAPAC, and the Natchez Museum of African American History.

“Seven remarkable ladies — the late Judge Mary Lee Davis-Toles, Josie Gilchrest-Camper, Flora M. Green Terrell, Mary White, Patricia A. Washington, Juanita Jones and the late Patricia Powers, blazed a trail for a museum that is today celebrated internationally. And we look forward to recognizing each one of them,” the mayor said.

Tony Fields, director of music at Zion Chapel AME Church, will also perform Sunday night.

Gibson said the MLK celebration in Natchez will continue on Monday at what will become Hiram Revels Plaza, located at that is known as the MLK Triangle across from Zion Chapel AME Church at the corner of St. Catherine and MLK streets.

There, leaders from Zion Chapel, which owns the Triangle property, will convey ownership of the property to the city in order for the development of a park in honor of Hiram Revels.

The late Rev. Hiram Revels was pastor of Zion Chapel Church and a former U.S. Senator representing Mississippi. He was also the first president of Alcorn State University. Revels was the first African American to serve in either house of the U.s. Congress.

The commemoration at the Triangle will be followed by the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, which will commence at 3 p.m. on Broadway. Co-Grand Marshals will be Mrs. Leola Harris and Natchez Police Chief Caroline “Cal” Green.