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HEIDELBERG, Germany — For more than a quarter century, Heidelberg’s Rhein-Neckar branch of the NAACP has commemorated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with speeches, songs, readings, food, fellowship, and, one year, an interpretive dance by a U.S. Army sergeant major. This year is no exception.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, along with the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut (German American Institute) of Heidelberg will sponsor the 26th annual international commemoration of the birthday of the assassinated civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

The main event begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Providence Church in Heidelberg.

The theme for this year’s program will be “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — Remembering His Legacy for a Better Today and Tomorrow.”

The U.S. keynote speaker Saturday will be Hilary Shelton, NAACP vice president for advocacy and director of the organization’s Washington bureau. The German speaker for the program will be Professor Dr. Christiane Tietz, professor for systematic theology and social ethics at the University of Mainz, who has been a visiting scholar in the United States.

There will also be gospel music by the Mark Twain Village Gospel Choir and the Manita African Gospel Choir. A reception at the Providence Church in Heidelberg will follow the program.

A panel discussion on King’s message and work and its relevance today for social transformation begins at 7 p.m. on Friday at the German American Institute, at Sofienstrasse 12, Heidelberg, with the theme “Continuing Challenges of Dr. King’s Last Years — Promotion of Economic Equality and Peace.” Both the Friday and Saturday events are free and open to the public.

Further information is available from NAACP Rhein-Neckar Branch President James W. Harris at 0176-8011-7851, or from the International Commemoration program chairman, Michael AlliMadi, at 0177-550-6635.

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