Officials organizing the Westside’s celebration of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said next year will be particularly special because King’s daughter will be the keynote speaker and the ceremony will end with the dedication of a new library auditorium named for the slain civil rights leader.

Yolanda King — Martin Luther King’s eldest daughter — will be the keynote speaker at the celebration on Monday, January 16th, at the SGI (Soka Gakai International) Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.

Yolanda King will be introduced by Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., who is the first dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta and the founder of the Gandhi Institute for Reconciliation.

The free event — which has become one of the largest celebrations of its kind in Southern California — will end with a march two blocks to the dedication of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium in the new Santa Monica Public Library.

Celebrations begin at 9 a.m., and the dedication will be at noon.

The event is coordinated by the Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition — a nonprofit coalition whose missions are “consistent with King’s legacy.”

Cosponsors are Santa Monica College, the City of Santa Monica, and the SMC Associates.

The multi-ethnic, interfaith program will also include inspirational readings, music, and presentations of scholarships.

The theme is “State of the Union: A Time for Love, Not Hate; for Understanding, Not Anger; for Peace, Not War.”

Yolanda King is founder and CEO of Higher Ground Productions, an organization dedicated to teaching people to celebrate diversity and embrace unity.

She is a speaker and actor who has performed or lectured in 49 of the American states as well as in Europe, Africa and Asia for educational, business, religious and civic organizations.

She is the author or co-author of two books — Open My Eyes, Open My Soul and Embracing Your Power in 30 Days.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree with honors from Smith College, Yolanda King received a master’s degree in theater from New York University and directed and performed in productions in that area.

As an actor, she has done several roles in films that have to do with social change, including playing Rosa Parks in the NBC-TV movie King, Betty Shabazz in the film Death of a Prophet, and Medgar Evers’ daughter Reena in Ghosts of Mississippi.

King has received many honors and serves on the boards of many organizations dedicated to missions such as social change, justice, and peace.

Information, (310) 434-4003.

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