Race issues to be center of program

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 18, 2015

The philosophy club of Albert Lea High School will take on several race-related issues of the times during the 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Program on Monday evening.

The theme of the program is “Overcoming Obstacles to Economic Success.”

One of the organizers, Ted Hinnenkamp, said he expects the club to touch on economic justice and, in doing so, likely will bring up issues such as minority-heavy prison population in America and minority-law enforcement relations stemming from incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York.

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“We try to work in the whole justice thing, and that’s what the philosophy club is going to bring to it,” Hinnenkamp said.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King was a pastor and a leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1960s. King was shot dead in Memphis in 1968. The federal holiday in his honor was established in 1986.

Two years later, people with the Albert Lea Human Rights Commission along with Semcac, Southern Minnesota Legal Aid and Senior Resources gathered to establish an event on MLK Day. They wants young people to come and had elementary-age children and their parents show up.

“If they got involved in an event like these, they would remember it — remember celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday,” said Hinnenkamp, a paralegal with the Albert Lea branch of Southern Minnesota Legal Services.

Until last year, the event was a breakfast at First Lutheran Church’s Bethany Hall. It switched to be an evening gathering at the Albert Lea campus of Riverland Community College, which presents the challenge of attracting young people. High school students come now, Hinnenkamp said, and about 75 to 100 people in all are likely to show up.

The keynote speaker on Monday will be Riverland President Adenuga Atewologun. There is no fee, though a donation basket will be present. Activities from from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Beverages will be served from 5 to 5:30 p.m.

The Albert Lea High School chorale will perform. A scholarship will be awarded, too.

The planning committee for the MLK Day activities comprises Hinnenkamp, Dennis Dieser of the Albert Lea Family Y, Linda Lares of Semcac, Pat Mulso of the Freeborn County Historical Society, Mary Hinnekamp of Albert Lea Area Schools, Carrie Paulson of Senior Resources, Edel Fernandez of Riverland Community College and former Minnesota Teacher of the Year Paul Goodnature.

“We all bring different ideas to the table,” Ted Hinnenkamp said.


If you go

What: Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Program

When: 5-6:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Lecture Hall, Riverland Community College

How much: free of charge; donations accepted

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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