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Toledoans honor Martin Luther King, Jr., at unity celebration

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Students from Ella P. Stewart Academy recite their pledge during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Celebration at the University of Toledo. The students, all sixth graders, are, from left: Jayona Wren, Taylor Hughes, Najae Pettaway, Imani Hicks, and Jayla Edwards.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Speakers shared messages of love and action today at the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Celebration at the University of Toledo.

Keynote speaker John Barfield, an Ann Arbor entrepreneur and the founder and chairman emeritus of the Bartech Group, encouraged those in attendance to be “inspired to action” by the words and legacy of civil rights leader Mr. King.

Mr. Barfield credited his business success to Mr. King and his followers’ “economic vision.” He said the nation needs more business owners and employers, especially in urban neighborhoods.

“Open as many doors as you can for others,” he told the crowd inside the university’s Savage Arena.

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The two-hour long event featured musical performances by the Toledo Community Youth Choir, Toledo Interfaith Mass Choir, and the Toledo singing group First Creation. Mayor Michael Bell and UT president Dr. Lloyd Jacobs were among the local leaders who attended.

Mayor Bell challenged those in attendance to make friends with five people who don’t look like them.

“If you all do that next year this place will be sold out,” he said.

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