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Multiple events set to honor King Jr.

Multiple events are planned in the community this weekend leading up to Monday's annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Events set for Saturday include the city's annual prayer breakfast, the Dr. Martin L. King Youth Explosion event hosted by Difference Makers of Hot Springs, and an event at Hot Springs High School featuring actor and comedian Kel Mitchell.

The 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, hosted by the Hot Springs Branch of the NAACP No. 6013, will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in Horner Hall at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade will be held on Monday. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Central and Whittington avenues and proceed south on Central Avenue to Spring Street, turning onto Malvern Avenue, and ending on Church Street.

Following the parade, the annual King birthday celebration will be held at 11 a.m. at the Hot Springs Convention Center, featuring a speech by the Rev. Tyrone Burnell.

The keynote speaker for Saturday's prayer breakfast is Carol Johnson, the executive director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, a news release said.

Lavenia Hicks, an organizer of the breakfast, said to expect a very forthcoming speech from Johnson. Every year, the branch alternates male and female speakers, and Hicks selected Johnson due to her speaking abilities and experience.

"I've known Johnson ever since her days at The Sentinel-Record. She's going to bring a lot to the table," Hicks said.

This year's theme is "Removing Injustice from the Road to Justice," which Hicks said is an appropriate title for the breakfast in 2018.

"Throughout the last several years we have seen much injustice towards African-Americans in America. We feel like the injustice is that we are being targeted, but the justice will come because God has the final say," she said.

Hicks welcomed people to attend, noting, "We're the only MLK breakfast in the state of Arkansas, to our knowledge. No matter your nationality we look forward to breaking bread together."

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission has partnered with the Arkansas Department of Education and Reading Initiative for Student Excellence to host the event at Hot Springs High School featuring celebrity speaker Mitchell, best known for his Nickelodeon series "Kenan and Kel," and roles in movies such as "Good Burger" and "Mystery Men."

The Hot Springs Dance Troupe will perform their original jazz piece, "Too Darn Hot" at the RISE event and will debut their modern work, "Strange Fruit," at the prayer breakfast.

The event, held from noon to 3 p.m. in the school's gym, is open to the public and will be emceed by comedian and host of Power 92 jams, Keith Glason. Free tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite, and scholarships will be given to youth throughout the event.

The commission, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, "Works tirelessly to promote understanding and acceptance of non violence and human equality among all Arkansans," Scarbrough DuShun, executive director for the commission, said.

"I'm truly honored, as a state leader, to be able to host a program during King Holiday week, which allows me to work with the youth in the Hot Springs area," DuShun said.

Difference Makers of Hot Springs and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Committee will hold the Youth Explosion event at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Historic Eureka Missionary Baptist Church at 721 Gaines Ave.

"The keynote speaker for the event is Tommy "Chase" Sproles III, a junior at Historic Little Rock Central High School, who enjoys theater, dramatics, and the field of science; which are the professions of both his mother and maternal grandmother," a new release said.

Sproles is currently enrolled in the Academy of Pre-Health Scholars program and plans to pursue studies in medicine, chemistry, and social science. Sproles is also involved in Little Rock Central's NASA Human Exploration Rover Team, currently designing a rover that will improve human exploration away from Earth, the release said.

Sproles' parents are Tommy and Tricia Sproles Jr., paternal grandparents are Tommy and Henrietta Sproles Sr., who are both graduates of Langston High School, and his maternal grandmother Carol Hughes.

The Youth Explosion program will also include song and dance praise performances by area church youth groups from St. Mark Baptist Church, Union Missionary Baptist Church, New Faith Christian Ministries, New Beginnings Christian Ministries, and Historic Eureka Missionary Baptist Church.

Local on 01/12/2018

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