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Birmingham annual Martin Luther King tribute steps up a gear

BLACK HISTORY ICON: Today (Jan 15) would have been Dr Martin Luther King's birthday

AN ANNUAL event to honour the legendary civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr takes centre stage in Birmingham on Sunday (Jan 17) as organisers have stepped up their tribute and will present it at the prestigious Birmingham Town Hall.

It’s the first time the popular showcase has been staged at such a mainstream venue – although last year it was held at the new Library of Birmingham.

But organiser Audrey Hayles-Parkes, one of the main leads behind the project, has had her sights on the Town Hall for quite some time.

“We feel this is the appropriate place to hold a tribute to such a visionary and we will do Martin Luther King proud, believe me,” said Hayles-Parkes, of Inspiring a Generation, who has helped to stage the five previous annual showcases.

“This annual celebration has grown in such a way and the Town Hall venue is a significant step forward for our community. We will reflect this by staging a landmark event.

“We’ve had some amazing support this year – particularly Alex Williams, of North of South Records, who has been my stage manager and taken all the stress off me.

“This year, for the first time, we’re handing out awards to three of our unsung heroes within the community.”

The birthday (today) of Martin Luther King – January 15 1929 – is a date held dear by the West Midlands community. The Sunday nearest his birthday is traditionally set aside for his tribute and this year is no exception on what would have been his 87th birthday.

TRIBUTE: Basil Gabbidon performing at last year's MLK event at the Library of Birmingham

The event will celebrate with a packed show featuring local performers such as award-winning soprano Abigail Kelly; Basil Gabbidon, one of the founder members of Steel Pulse; Perry Beeches Trust Choir; Lytie; Emma Marie and Laura Ige.

Speakers include Rev Canon Eve Pitts, of Holy Trinity Church; Mashuq Ally, Birmingham City Council’s equalities chief; black history campaigner Stephanie Pitter; award winning actor Cherelle Skeete, and community activists Maxie Hayles and Desmond Jaddoo.

There will also be a scene from the recently staged play Rosa Parks, the Hidden Story, produced by Audrey Hayles-Parks.

The showcase will be held between 5pm and 8.30pm on Sunday. For more information, visit: or contact the Town Hall box office on 0121 345 0600.

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