With "Selma" on movie screens and #BlackLivesMatter in social media, this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes with added significance.
The holiday, officially observed on Monday, is noted with a series of events starting Sunday. A commemorative program begins at 3 p.m. at Rochester Community Baptist Church.
Monday begins with a "We Have A Dream" breakfast at the DoubleTree Hotel, 150 S. Broadway.
At noon will be the annual march through downtown Rochester, from the city-county Government Center to Rochester Civic Theatre. Local students who participated in an MLK essay contest will speak during the Civic Theatre program.
Rochester NAACP President W.C. Jordan said recent nationwide marches and demonstrations in support of black men killed by law enforcement could also lend to a greater number of people walking in Monday's march.
"It has some added significance with the 'Black Lives Matter' movement," Jordan said. "I expect we will see a few more marchers."
"Black Lives Matter" is a social media campaign created in 2012 in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting. It took on new life following black deaths at the hands of police last year in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.
Keynote speaker at the Sunday program will be Ernie Troy Hughes, vice-president of university advancement at Winona State University.
Kendrick D. Adkins Jr., chief financial officer at Mayo Clinic, will speak at the "We Have a Dream" breakfast, and Leslie McClellon, president of Rochester Community and Technical College, will headline the post-march program on Monday in the Civic Theatre's lobby.
"I'm very excited for the message of the activities," said Kolloh Nimley, community program specialist with the Rochester office of the Council on Black Minnesotans. "I always interested to see how much the activities and speakers bring back the history of the civil rights movement."
Hughes grew up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement. He said he was honored to be asked to speak in Rochester.
"We can just look back three years and wonder just how far we have come since the 1960s," Hughes said. "But it's important that we celebrate Dr. King's legacy and discuss his content of character. That is what will stand out in my speech."
Hughes said he hopes people not only look back at Dr. King's life this week, but also at their own lives.
"When we look at people, we want to know what they stand for and what they believe," he said. "I look at (MLK Day) as a more of a time of reflection, as everyone can do their own self-awareness self-check of their personal traits. Dr. King moves us to do this."
Dr. King is portrayed on the big screen in the current film release "Selma."
"People will be able to experience Martin Luther King Day after digging into history with a movie based on a true story," Nimley said. "'Selma' is a true story, not fiction."
The recent events preceding Monday's holiday only reminds Nimley of the cause, she said.
"It's about the fight to be recognized as a human being," she said. "We can look at where we are at today and what we can still accomplish together as a human race."
David Dennis, who was part of civil rights demonstrations from the Freedom Rides of 1961 to the Freedom Summer of 1964, will talk about his lifelong fight for civil rights at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the East Hall of the Kryzsko Commons at Winona State University.