Carson’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute returns in person

For the first time since the pandemic, the city of Carson’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute is returning in person.

This family friendly event typically draws over 200 attendees and organizers are looking forward to bringing the community back together to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy at the Carson Event Center at 801 E. Carson St.

This year’s event is themed “Dr. King’s impact on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion” and will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13. It will feature live entertainment, readings from winners of the MLK Tribute essay contest and a keynote speech from DEI expert Kevin Hooks.

The tribute is one of Carson’s most beloved community traditions and has been running for several decades, said Community Services Coordinator Dani Cook. Its long history does pose a challenge for the organizing committee, which strives to come up with a fresh take on Dr. King’s legacy every year.

“For some of the people in the Carson community who may be in their 60s, 70s, and 80s and watched Dr. King throughout the 1960s, it’s hard to come up with something new that they don’t know,” said Cook. “So we really focus on educational pieces that people can learn something new about or that they hadn’t heard before.”

The planning committee is composed of several staff members, but at the heart of it, Cook said, is a dedicated group of resident volunteers. They selected the theme of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, in part, because conversations around these topics have grown much louder in the wake of 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement.

Keynote speaker Kevin Hooks is an expert in this field and serves as a DEI consultant through his firm CEOLIFE Unplugged. Prior to starting his consulting business, Hooks helped shape public policy as the Chairman of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and was a leading voice for social justice as the CEO of the Las Vegas Urban League.

The event will also feature an essay contest where students and community members are asked to engage with the event theme through their writing. The winners from each age category will be given the opportunity to present a section of their essay on event day.

And, as always, the tribute will focus heavily on the life, achievements and legacy of Dr. King.

“We try to create a rollercoaster of emotion for attendees,” said Cook. “We go through ups and downs – there were some very tragic events in his life – but we always end on a high note and I feel like people really go home feeling good.”

The speaker and entertainment program is followed by a social hour where attendees are invited to linger and enjoy refreshments.

“It’s kind of a nice time for people to sit and gather and talk about what they’ve learned,” said Cook. “It’s a great time to socialize and chat and hopefully make some new friends.”

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