Jan. 9, 2018

MLK Tribute

HONORING A LEGEND — The 37th Annual IPS Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 19, 2018, in the main auditorium at Crispus Attucks High School. The event is free and open to the public but will also be avaialble via live stream. The Rev. Winterbourne Harrison-Jones (below) is the keynote speaker.

NOTE: Due to inclement whether on Jan. 12, the IPS tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 19. 

What started in the Board Room of the John-Morton Finney Center for Educational Services in the early 1980s has turned into a nearly 40-year tradition that packs the house inside the auditorium at Crispus Attucks High School.

The annual IPS Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a point of pride for Pat Payne, a retired IPS teacher and longtime district employee, who started the program to offer a centralized event that honors the life, legacy and teachings of the slain civil rights leader.

The 2018 tribute will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, January 19 at Crispus Attucks. Presented by the district’s Racial Equity Office and the IPS Crispus Attucks Museum, in partnership with WFYI, the hour-long program is free and open to the public. It will also be live-streamed at myips.org/ipsmlktribute.

This year’s keynote speaker is the Rev. Winterbourne Harrison-Jones from Witherspoon Presbyterian Church.

The tribute will also feature musical selections from the Center for Inquiry (CFI) School 27 Middle School Choir and the Crispus Attucks Chorale Ensemble, as well as poetry recitations from CFI 27 elementary students. Public remarks will be made by IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, and IPS Board of Schools Commissioners Vice President Venita Moore.

Although now in its 37th year, Payne admits she never thought she’d still be organizing the tribute.

“I didn’t think it would last this long because you don’t even think about things like that. You just know that it is so important that it is done and seen by the entire community. Even in July, I’ll have people come up to me and say that they watched the tribute on TV,” said Payne.

WFYI and ETC air the tribute throughout the year.

“I think it’s such a blessing that our school district continues to carry Dr. King’s message forward,” said Payne.

It’s Dr. King’s message and his works that Payne keeps front of mind when choosing the speakers and students for the tribute.

“We try to extend to people who are living lives that Dr. King advocated for out in the community. The same with our speaker,” said Payne. “We always try to get someone who is not just a name that’s well known, but a person that’s well known because of the works that he or she is actually doing on behalf of humanity in our community.”

That also includes ensuring the tribute is represented by a range in nationalities, because Dr. King was an advocate for everyone “the haves and the have nots, white, black, Hispanic. Dr. King stood for humanity, and I think that’s the message that’s missing,” said Payne. “He wasn’t just a voice for black people.”

As this year’s tribute approaches, Payne said Dr. King’s words on the “urgency of now,” keeps ringing in her ears.

“The time is of the essence that we hear the message of not only Dr. King, but the other prophets who are trying to guide and steer us to truly understand that if peace is to be, it’s got to be within us,” said Payne. “We’ve got to reach out and be the one. We can’t sit back and wait for others to do this job. It’s everybody’s job. … I hope people walk away from the tribute able to connect what they hear in this program to what their actions are yearlong.”

Following the program, the IPS Crispus Attucks Museum, located next to the school’s gymnasium, will be open to visitors. The program and the museum are free and open to the public.