Scottsdale mail-bombing survivor Don Logan will the featured speaker at Gilbert’s commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Friday.
Besides speeches from Logan and Mesa historian Walter Venerable Sr., the “Evening of Sharing” will include choir performances, poetry readings and the viewing of a documentary by Gilbert students about King’s life. The documentary also contains a portion of King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.
It will also feature comments from Mayor John Lewis and other local leaders about the importance of diversity and the other ideals of King’s life.
The event will be held at First United Methodist Church of Gilbert.
Town Councilman Les Presmyk, who is the council’s representative to the Human Relations, Arts and Cultural Promotion Commission, which organizes the event, said media reports last year regarding the town’s cancellation of the King commemoration were the result of “miscommunication.”
But the snafu seems to have ended up working in the event’s favor.
The uncertainty prompted officials to make sure something did happen, and “we’re going to have a better and a stronger MLK event because of it,” Lewis said.
Logan, now the Glendale diversity administrator, was the director of diversity and dialogue for Scottsdale in 2004 when he nearly died after opening a mail bomb sent to his office.
Two white supremacist brothers were indicted in the case last June.
“He has a very strong message about facing racism in a time when he felt racism had been erased,” Presmyk said while talking about the upcoming event during a council meeting last week.
Venerable, a Mesa resident since 1920, will speak about the civil rights era and his memories of the time. The event will kick off Gilbert’s yearlong commemoration of its 90th anniversary, which is coming up this summer.
In past years, the town’s celebration of King’s legacy has been held at the Southeast Regional Library, the Boys and Girls Club, and more recently on school campuses.
The commission decided not to hold it at a school this year because of school district budget constraints. It looked to the faith community for a place to hold the nondenominational event, with Rev. Dan Morley of First United Methodist the first to volunteer his facilities.
Celebrating civil rights
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: First United Methodist Church, 331 S. Cooper Road, Gilbert
Cost: The event is free.
Information: (480) 503-6200