The 22nd annual Raytown Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019 at Raytown South High School located at 8211 Sterling Avenue in Raytown.

The event will feature motivational speaker and actor Chaz Ingram. Ingram has appeared in such TV shows at CSI NY, Less Than Perfect, Outlaw and Criminal Minds. Also on hand will be Maurice Hayes Men’s Drum Group, Raytown Mayor Mike McDonough, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 2, the Raytown High School jazz band and the Raytown School District elementary choir. Additionally, the winners of the MLK Today Essay Contest will be announced.

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Today’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration is the result of the inspiration of Queen Mother Maxine McFarlane. In 1995, Queen Mother and Rev. Tom Blaney of Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church held a celebration in Raytown to promote interracial peace and reconciliation as well as help provide resources for Queen Mother’s ministry to the needy, “Community Outreach.” After a gap of a few years, the community MLK celebration resumed in 2004 and the partnership expanded to include the City of Raytown Human Relations Commission and the Raytown Community Interfaith Alliance (“RCIFA”). In 2013, Graceway joined as a partner and introduced the “MLK Today Essay Contest” as a new way to pass on the legacy of Dr. King. In 2016, the Raytown School District provided substantial support to expand the reach of the annual essay contest.

The Raytown community first began celebrating Dr. King’s legacy in 1988 when a group of Raytown citizens, led by Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman of Southwood United Church of Christ formed Citizens United for Raytown Enrichment (“C.U.R.E.”). C.U.R.E. organized five MLK celebrations which featured the “Light One Candle” Award to recognize Raytown residents who helped promote healthy inter-racial relations in Raytown. See more about the history (and future!) of the MLK celebration at