“Dr. King dreamed of inclusiveness," Williams said. "However, one of the major divides is between those who are religious and those who are not. A way to break down the divisive lines is through storytelling, so tonight we will have distinguished guests share their stories.”
7 p.m. — Community Forum moderated by Kevin Muhammad at Eastdale Village Community Church, 1402 Tunnel Blvd.
7 p.m. — Claud Anderson speaks on empowering the black community at New Monumental Baptist Church, 901 Woodmore Lane. Event co-sponsored by Chattanooga Sankofa. Tickets are $10. Unity Group is asking people to wear dashikis to the event.
9 a.m. — Prayer Breakfast with Ana Garcia-Ashley of Gamaliel Community Network at Second Missionary Baptist Church, 2305 E. Third St. Tickets are $25.
8:30 a.m. — The Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs hosts an MLK Day of Service. Volunteers are asked to check in between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. at Glass House Collective near the corner of Glass Street and North Chamberlain Avenue. Service projects begin at 9 a.m. and should end by noon or earlier. For more information or to register online go to bit.ly/MLKDayCHA2017.
11 a.m. — Techtown offers an introduction to robotics, film and circuitry for youth ages 7 and older. The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center at 200 E. M.L. King Blvd.
3:15 p.m. — M.L. King Day March and main program. March lineup starts at 3:15 p.m. in the Urban League parking lot on M.L. King Boulevard and Peeples Street. March starts at 4 p.m. Main program starts at 5 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre at 709 Broad St. Charles Steele, CEO and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is the main speaker.
"Don't talk to strangers," is the rule most children are taught regardless of their economic, religious or racial background, said the Rev. Charlotte S. Williams, vice president of the Unity Group of Chattanooga. But on Tuesday night, she challenged the more than 50 people attending the Interfaith Martin Luther King Jr. celebration to break that rule.
She challenged all of them to sit next to someone they didn't know and eat together after the interfaith service.
"We live in such isolation," said Williams, pastor of Eastdale Village Community United Methodist Church. "We have so many phobias and so many '-isms', and that is destroying us."
The crowd included more whites than blacks and there were people from the Middle East, Native Americans and people from the LGBT community.
The group included Christian ministers, humanists, people who worship nature, Muslims and representatives from the Unitarian Universalist Church.
The event was the first of a weeklong celebration honoring the life of the late civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Local Nation of Islam leader Kevin Muhammad will host a community forum on the "People's Agenda" at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eastdale Village Community Church on Tunnel Boulevard. The "People's Agenda" is a list made by residents of what they want from elected officials.
"Dr. King dreamed of inclusiveness," Williams said. "However, one of the major divides is between those who are religious and those who are not. A way to break down the divisive lines is through storytelling, so tonight we will have distinguished guests share their stories."
Barbara Miller of the Bha'i Faith gave a prayer and explained that her faith, at its very core, teaches that "we are one people."
It teaches that "all are created from the same dust, that no one should exalt himself above another," she said.
Terry Stulce gave a Buddhist prayer and Williams poured libations in memory of "our ancestors."
Beth Foster of the Mercy Junction Justice & Peace Center talked about it being the 50th anniversary of when King started the Poor People's campaign. She challenged Americans to help the nation be born again and be restructured to have more consideration for the poor. Mary Bricker Jenkins passed out a flyer inviting people to participate in a local Poor People's campaign by contacting the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center.
And Deborah Levine of the Mizpah Congregation talked about her work to bring diverse cultures together, especially blacks and Jews.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.