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MLK events teach 'unity in diversity'

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Just a week after Gwinnett received national attention for math homework with racial overtones, local residents are ready to unite to honor civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King.

"I was shocked and appalled that people are not sensitive," United Ebony Society president Marlene Taylor-Crawford said about the Beaver Ridge Elementary School math worksheet with questions about slavery.

As a school counselor herself, Taylor-Crawford has been trying to impart lessons on "Unity in Diversity," the theme for this year's MLK program, the 12th annual event for the United Ebony Society.

"That really surprised me," she said of the Beaver Ridge work. "It made me realize we have a lot more work that needs to be done."

For the first time, the local King Day celebration has been divided into a two-day event: a 3:30 p.m. program Sunday at Meadowcreek High School and the usual 10 a.m. parade through downtown Lawrenceville Monday.

Taylor-Crawford said the split allowed the group to bring the celebration to another part of the county and divide the accolades. But she said even more people have showed interest in attending both portions.

"We definitely do not feel it is going to split the crowd whatsoever," she said. "The message and the principle (King) stood for is so universal that people can find common ground. ... It wasn't just a black and white issue."

In Snellville, New Jerusalem Baptist Church has organized a city parade. The festivities will begin with a march/parade at 11:30 a.m. from Snellville City Hall to the church located at 1958 Dogwood Road.

A church service will follow at 1 p.m., featuring keynote speaker Robbie Ballard of Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Auburn.

"We look forward to the entire community coming out and sharing in Dr. King's vision," Pastor Elijah Collins Jr. said of the event. "Our community is a prime example that the teachings and ideals of Dr. King are yet still alive."