Chattanooga Now Annual King celebration moves to Olivet Baptist Church

Chattanooga Now Annual King celebration moves to Olivet Baptist Church

January 16th, 2014 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Outabout

Dr. Tommie Brown will be the guest speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration organized by the Unity Group.

Dr. Tommie Brown will be the guest speaker...


* 3:30 p.m. Marchers begin assembly outside Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

* 4:30 p.m. March from Tivoli to Olivet Baptist Church, 740 E. M.L. King Blvd.

* 5 p.m. Program at Olivet Baptist

The civil-rights movement had its beginnings in churches, so Chattanooga's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will pay tribute to those roots Monday, Jan. 20, by honoring the civil-rights leader at Olivet Baptist Church.

Olivet was a "pioneering civil-rights church," along with New Zion Baptist Church, according to Quenston Coleman, who heads event organizer Unity Group.

Out of the churches, he said, the Unity Group was formed.

The celebration, traditionally involves a march down M.L. King Boulevard and then to the Tivoli Theatre. This year the event will instead start outside the Tivoli with a march to M.L. King Boulevard and then up to Olivet Baptist.

"It started in the church," Coleman said, "so we're going back to the church. The leadership there was the crux of the [local] movement."

The celebration, which commemorates King's birthday (Jan. 15), will mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. As such, it ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public.

The signing of that act came less than a year after King's "I Have a Dream Speech," which he delivered at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, D.C., in August 1963, and nine months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"[Lyndon B.] Johnson, a Southern president, said, 'We're going to do something about this,'" Coleman said.

Entertainment at the program will be provided by The Creative Underground and students from Brown International Academy.

The speaker will be Dr. Tommie F. Brown, a former Tennessee state representative, former associate professor of social work at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the woman for whom local elementary school Brown Academy is named.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at