PARTICIPANTS GATHER for a prayer at Winebrenner Theological Seminary during a past program on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This years annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Walk and Tribute Program will take place Monday starting at the Church of the Living God in Findlay. The event is being held by the Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center. (File photo)

The community is invited to participate in the Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Walk and Tribute Program on Monday, King’s birthday, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

This is the center’s 36th tribute program, which has been held every year since its 1982 founding, as well as its 18th Unity Walk.

The unity walkers will gather at 5:45 p.m. at the Church of the Living God, 701 N. Main St., and walk as a group to Winebrenner Theological Seminary on the University of Findlay campus. The walk will take about 10 minutes.

After a brief ceremony of reflection and prayer, the walkers will return to the church, and the tribute program will begin around 6:30 p.m.

The program will consist of prayer; interim speaker comments; music; dance performance; and a keynote speaker, Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr., senior pastor at First Christian Church.

The program will conclude with a musical and video tribute to King.

Jerome Gray, chairman of the Black Heritage Library board, said television was key to the civil rights movement, referencing Steven Levingston’s book, “Kennedy and King.”

“It allowed American households to see what was happening to the Negro in the South,” he said.

He added that King was instrumental in getting the attention of President John F. Kennedy, who delivered the Report to the American People on Civil Rights in a June 11, 1963, broadcast from the White House.

Gray said that was one of the first times a U.S. president used television to address the nation on a matter of that magnitude, and King wept with joy when he watched the broadcast in Atlanta, as Kennedy called on Congress to take action for black Americans’ civil rights.

Gray said the Unity Walk helps drive the movement’s history home for younger participants, in particular.

“The walk that we do here in Findlay is symbolic,” he said. “We like to get children to participate because it helps them to be part of a movement that they weren’t alive at that point in time to participate in.

“It gives them an opportunity to be part of something with their parents in respect to diversity. It makes it tangible.”