A book and a film that tell the inspiring true story of a group of black World War II aviators is the subject of this year's Harlem and Beyond program.
Brenda Scobey, coordinator of the community-wide program, said the focus will be on "Red Tails: An Oral History of the Tuskegee Airmen," a book by John B. Holway, and a PBS documentary, titled "The Tuskegee Airmen: They Fought Two Wars."
Both the book and the film are available at Beale Memorial Library.
Most of the events take place in February during Black History Month. But two are scheduled for Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and another, an essay contest, has already begun.
The festivities start at 8:30 a.m. Monday with the annual MLK Breakfast to be held at the Martin Luther King Community Center.
Stephanie Campbell said she was just out of high school in 1987 when she first volunteered to help and she's been doing it just about every year since. She estimates 350 to 400 people attended last year.
Hodel's is cooking the breakfast, and a youth group called Stop the Violence will do the cleanup. As a reward, Campbell said they'll be served lunch that day at the center.
That evening, the 29th annual march and birthday celebration for King will assemble at 5:30 p.m. downtown at the Liberty Bell, at the corner of Truxtun and Chester avenues. At 6 p.m. the parade will proceed east on Truxtun to Q Street, ending at about 7 p.m. at Mount Zion Church at California and P.
"No bands or anything like that," said Leo Williams, who's been involved with the parade for 27 years. "It's just a candlelight march with a church service at the end. I'd like to pack the church."
"Black America: Its Past, Present, and Future" is the theme for an essay contest sponsored by the Concerned Leaders of the Community organization.
A first-place winner will be chosen from each of three categories: Students in grades three through five, six through eight and nine through 12. The winner in each category will receive a Kindle Fire, said coordinator Donald Wesson of Empassioned for Christian Living Church.
"Three areas we're really looking for is how blacks have influenced America in the past, what we are doing today, and how we will be in the future."
Wesson emphasized that the contest is open to all students in the grades mentioned.
"It's not just for African-Americans; it's for everybody," he said. "We need to address every culture."
All essays must be submitted by Feb. 15. Winners will be announced on Feb. 23 at Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church. For an essay application and guidelines, call 586-1840.