Irving — The Irving Parks and Recreation Center honored the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) at the Irving Arts Center on Sunday, Jan. 19. The program included readings from the three award winners from the Irving Parks and Recreation’s essay contest, music performed by Antioch Christian Church choir, dance from the Dallas Black Dance Theater group Encore, and a dramatic performance from the Soul Rep Theater.
“I thought the show was amazing,” Cynthia Clark, a member of the Antioch Christian Church choir, said. “It was an honor to be here and to represent all that MLK means to us as a minority. We celebrate all he did to end segregation, and as a musician, it is such a gift to be able to celebrate his life. This is community-based, and it is important to represent our culture in the community.
“I would like to see more youth participate in the celebration, especially in the arts performances. I want all the people in Irving, not just the minorities, to come and celebrate and pay honor to MLK. We have so much diversity, and we should celebrate it. I feel like Irving has a responsibility to showcase and celebrate all facets of the community. I would have loved to see our minority represented as the recipients of the essay contest. We need to encourage our children to participate in these contests and to stand up on that stage.”
The winner of the essay contest at the middle school level, Aarav Kansupada, shared what inspired him to enter into the contest.
“I decided to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest, because he is a true icon of the American spirit,” Kansupada said. “King was a great man. Writing about him gives honor to his legacy. Next year, I would like to encourage more students to participate in the contest.
“His actions affect us today, especially people of color. The rights we have today are due to his efforts. There are many ways you can remember him, including going to a parade, listen to his speeches, and learning about him and what made him such a great leader.”
Adian Merritt (15) attended the event with his grandmother.
“I kind of got dragged here, but I ended up enjoying it,” Merritt said. “My grandmother made sure I already know about Martin Luther King, Jr, so I did not learn a lot, but it did show the information about segregation in an interesting way. It is important to have these celebrations. It is a way for younger generations to learn about him and about what life has been like. Even though we may not always want to come to these things, once we get here, we remember it is important.”
Tony Grimes, Irving and Carrollton chapter NAACP President, praised the event.
“The city of Irving and Joe Moses and his staff did an awesome job,” Grimes said. “I appreciate the opportunity to come out and celebrate. Overall, they do a fantastic job. I encourage people to come to events like this to celebrate the diversity we have here in Irving. I encourage everyone to do something kind for someone else. Move forward, past the division, and be kind. Everyone can do something that shows kindness the way Dr. King taught.”
You can view photos from the performance below:
Photos by Aubrey Turner