Hundreds of Arlington residents gathered at the Thomas Jefferson Theater Sunday night to honor the legacy and contributions of civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The ceremony was the 37th annual tribute to King and was produced by the Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources.
Christian Dorsey, the event’s master of ceremonies, praised King’s “truly powerful and transcendent legacy” but cautioned that more work had to be done to complete King’s vision.
“Martin Luther King Jr., remains a symbol of all people who struggle for civil rights, not just in this country but all over the world,” Dorsey said.
The seven first-place winners of Arlington Public Schools’ ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest read their winning entries and were presented with awards for their achievements. This year’s contest theme was “Dear Dr. King: What happens to a dream deferred.” More than 600 students submitted essays.
The essay winners were: Brittany O’Grady, fourth grade, Drew Model School; Brandon Ferder, third grade, McKinley Elementary; Rebecca Kate Reardon, sixth grade, Swanson Middle School; Charles Copening, eighth grade, Thomas Jefferson Middle School; Peter Martin, 12th grade, Stratford Program; Christine Stoddard, 11th grade, Yorktown High School; Michael Hammond, ninth grade, Washington-Lee High School.
Kim Jordan, a jazz musician and ordained minister, headlined the event. The Virginiaires, a gospel band from Chesapeake, Va., played an inspired three-song set.
County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman delivered welcoming remarks, and Reverend Keith Lightfoot of The Lord’s Church of Woodbridge gave the evening's invocation.