MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Messages of love, unity and equality echoed throughout the Manhattan Town Center today during the Little Apple’s 29th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Monday.
As different dance troupes, choirs and instrumentalists took to the stage to perform, Hands On Kansas State, the university’s volunteer organization, helped attendees sign up to help give back to their community and volunteer at different local events held throughout the year.
"We’re firm believers in keeping things going and keeping the dream alive as Dr. King would. He would want kids to be a part of it; he’d want black and white to be a part of it, Hispanics, Chinese, it doesn’t matter. He’s about cohesiveness and bringing people together and that’s what these organizations do. There are churches involved and the public library, the mayor- we have a conglomeration of people and activities going on," said Reverend Jim Spencer, who is the chairman of the Manhattan Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.
Front and center at the celebration was one-of-a-kind piece of art made especially for the festivities. Local quilter Ronna Tyson stitched a portrait of Dr. King using close to 500 pieces of fabric, "representing the many colors of people that make up our world" she said. It took her 6 months and 540 hours to complete.
"Each piece is selected according to color and texture and I had to go to five different quilt shops and numerous friends to go through their stashes of fabric to just find the right tones that I needed to do the shadows and create this particular piece. I wanted to make something that spoke of Martin Luther King and what he did for us and then actually after his death is still doing- helping us be aware of all the wonderful things that he set forth. He had a conviction and he wanted people to understand what love is and how to treat each other, to have respect and dignity. As I worked on this, I kept thinking about all the various components of his life and what he stood for and I think that starts to come through with what I was able to produce," Tyson said.
"If you look at each individual item at the textures that you see, you might see a piece of clothing that someone might wear, you might see their particular skin tone and he really stood for all of us so I think his face also stands for all of us in this image," she added.
Tyson is collecting hundreds of signatures from citizens who believe in Dr. King's message. The names will be stitched into an accompanying quilt along with several of Dr. King's famous quotes.