The 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be marked this year across the nation as well as during the 21st annual CommUNITY Breakfast in Columbus.

The African American Pastors Association will pay homage to the late civil rights leader and southern Baptist preacher during Monday’s free program, “MLK50 Forward: Together We Win with Love for Humanity,” at the Columbus North High School cafeteria.

The MLK50 theme, part of a nationwide movement, will be carried through in other local programming during the 50th anniversary year, said the Rev. Frank Griffin, Columbus, pastor of Thy Kingdom Come Ministries of Greenwood. He has facilitated the breakfast on behalf of the pastors association the past 10 years.

The pastors association, which has sponsored the breakfast since 2009, has lined up the following speakers for this year’s event, which begins at 7:15 a.m.:

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  • Jim Lienhoop, Columbus mayor
  • Jim Roberts, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. superintendent
  • Jeff Jones, executive lead for the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County
  • Stella Collins, Bartholomew County Area Chapter of the NAACP president
  • Brittany King, Black Lives Matter of Columbus chapter organizer in Columbus, the event’s primary speaker

Brittany King launched the multi-racial organization in July 2016, which has been a catalyst for a flurry of community events. That includes 150 people who gathered on MLK Day 2017 for a look at what organizers called the “radical” side of the minister at an event that drew 150 people from various groups and backgrounds.

She will highlight the Rev. King’s 1963 “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” in her speech.

“This is where Martin Luther King really vented,” the speaker said. “It’s really partly a letter of pent-up frustrations.”

The Black Lives Matter of Columbus leader added that she will include one of King’s more pointed quotes: “Time is neutral … We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Plus, she plans to highlight a part of King’s letter that she said will be umcomfortable for some to accept — that the biggest stumbling block to freedom is the white moderate, who is more devoted to order than to justice.

Also on the breakfast program is the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic Children’s Choir and Abigail Jackson, of Calvary Community Church, who will lead the closing song.

“It is fantastic to realize that we anchor so much of our life’s experience to music, and that we will carry that forward to this year’s celebration,” said the Rev. David Bosley, pastor of Dayspring Church of God Apostolic, and a member of the pastors association.

For the fourth year, a member of the community will be recognized with the Beloved Community Award, and pastors alliance scholarships will be awarded to students from Columbus East, Columbus North and Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech high schools.

The alliance is working to grow the amount of scholarship funds in the years ahead so more dollars can be distributed to students in the community, said Fred King, a pastor at Calvary Community Church.

A capacity crowd of about 350 is expected for this year’s event in the North High School cafeteria, with entrance from the parking lot behind the high school off Home Avenue.

Major supporters of the breakfast include the African American Pastors Association, Cummins Inc., Harmon Group, the City of Columbus, Columbus Regional Hospital, Force Construction, the African American Fund, the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, and individual pastors of the five predominantly black congregations in the Columbus area.

If you go

African American Pastors Alliance 21st annual CommUNITY Breakfast, 7:15 a.m. Monday, Columbus North High School, 1400 25th St., Columbus. Free admission. Information: 812-350-1345.

Other Martin Luther King Jr. events in Columbus:

  • 41st annual Martin Lutheran King Scholarship Program, 4 p.m. Sunday, Calvary Community Church, 1031 Chestnut St., Columbus. Information: 812-372-3077.
  • “Hidden Figures” movie screening and discussion, 10 a.m. Monday, Calvary Community Church, 1031 Chestnut St., Columbus. Free. Facilitator, John Sims. Information: 812-390-6642
  • Panel discussion by community members and IUPUC students, “Columbus Then and Now: How Far Have We Come, How Far Do We Have To Go?” 11 a.m. Monday, Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave., Columbus. Free. Information: Sandra Miles, IUPUC, 812-375-7525.
  • Columbus Area Arts Council presentation by Bright Star Touring Theatre, “Struggle for Freedom: The Life of Dr. King,” 2 p.m. Monday, The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus. Free. Information:
  • Black Lives Matter panel discussion, Rev. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmington Jail,” 6:30 p.m. Monday, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, 7850 W. Goeller Road, Columbus. Free. Information:
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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.