WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — It was 60 years ago that Martin Luther King Jr. took the stage at the March on Washington, and made a generation take a hard look at itself.

The nation will recognize his birthday this coming Monday, but Wheeling is getting an early start on the celebration.

To walk into the MLK Celebration Committee is to walk into a room filled with people who have commanded Wheeling’s attention, whether through their writing, speaking or their inspiration to others.

And all of them are paying tribute to one man who did the same for the entire country—and continues to do so more than half a century after his death.

This year they have six separate events planned between Friday and Monday.

They span faith, music, academic discussion and appreciation for those who live Martin Luther King’s vision today.

The board members say you won’t see this kind of community cooperation in many other cities.

Working with the colleges, the universities, working with different ministries in the church, this has been a unique makeup that I don’t know is seen all over the United States.

Bishop Darrell Cummings, Board Member, MLK Celebration Committee

We all come together because we want to make this event a nice one, one that’s as inclusive as it can be, and I think what we really hit the head on this year, an entire weekend of celebration.

Ron Scott Jr., Chair, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration

What you may not know is that Wheeling has a direct connection to Dr. King himself.

His good friend and UAW President Walter Reuther was born here and will be recognized this weekend for his helping the Civil Rights movement march forward.

Here is a list of the events this weekend:

  • Friday, January 13 at 7 pm: Shabbat Service at Temple Shalom, featuring performance by tenor Edward Washington II
  • Saturday, January 14 at 1 pm: Debate and discussion with high school and college students at Troy Theater in Swint Hall at Wheeling University
  • Sunday, January 15 at 2 pm: MLK March from Windmill at top of Martin Luther King Boulevard to Federal Courthouse on Chapline St. (marchers encouraged to park near courthouse, shuttle will be provided)
  • Following the march, a community dinner will be provided at West Virginia Northern Community College. Five local residents will be honored for their leadership.
  • Sunday, January 15 at 6 pm: Interfaith Prayer Service at Macedonia Baptist Church
  • Monday, January 16: Children’s programming at Laughlin Memorial Chapel. Winners of the Martin Luther King Essay, Music and Video student contests will be featured.