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MLK event at University of Toledo to feature speeches from dignitaries, African-American youths

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From left: Emily Avery, of United Way, Emily Hardcastle, with UT, UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and UT's Cindy Tierney attend a press conference at the mayor's office today to announce Monday's "Make a Way" MLK Unity Celebration at UT.

The Blade/Lori King
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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of hope and promise will be remembered again at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena on Monday during the annual event in his honor, the school’s president, Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, and Toledo Mayor Mike Bell promised during a joint news conference Friday.

The event will include the usual speeches of prominent dignitaries, but also the voices of the city’s African-American youths.

“The fact that the city and the university team up is a source of great pride for me,” Dr. Jacobs said of the event.

“This is central to the unity of our city,” he said.

“Make a Way” is the theme for the 12th annual event at the university’s main campus and it is aimed to encourage awareness and to bring more acceptance and tolerance to the divisiveness in the community.

It begins at 9 a.m. Monday and will be shown live on WGTE Channel 30 and rebroadcast at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.

John Barfield, founder and chairman emeritus of the Bartech Group Inc., will give the keynote address.

“This year’s theme, ‘Make a Way,’ is fitting as we strive to create jobs, grow small business, and nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship in northwest Ohio,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Mr. Barfield is a nationally known entrepreneur, and his story embodies making a way not only for himself but for others.”

Mr. Barfield is president and chief executive of LJ Holdings Investment Co. LLC, based in Tallahassee. Early in his career, he was president of Barfield Manufacturing Co. and practiced corporate and securities law in Chicago.

In addition to the speakers, the program will feature performances by the Toledo Youth Choir and the Interfaith Mass Choir. The 2013 UT MLK Scholarship recipients also will be announced.

Mayor Bell said the event is appropriate and representative of the diversity the community strives to achieve.

“Every time I have gone, I have been overcome with emotion,” Mr. Bell said.

A free community luncheon will follow the ceremony.

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are being asked to bring a canned good or nonperishable item that will be donated to the MLK Kitchen for the Poor, 650 Vance St.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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