When the IPS tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. begins at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17, at Crispus Attucks High School, it will be the 39th year the district has dedicated time to honor the man who gave his life to achieve equality for all.

“We started the MLK tribute in 1981 when I was president of the Indianapolis Education Association and when the IPS student population was composed of black and white students who desperately needed to understand and apply the principles of love and respect for one another. This was one of Dr. King’s most important teachings,” said Dr. Patricia Payne, director of the IPS Racial Equity Office and program coordinator of the MLK tribute.

Dr. King didn’t get a chance to see his mission fulfilled. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, but his legacy continues throughout the country and beyond.

Payne believes King’s message is just as important today. This year’s theme is “The Urgency of Now!”

“We continue to host (the tribute) because those same principles and teachings that Dr. King fought and died for need to be embedded in our consciousness now more than ever,” said Payne. “Disproportionality and disparities continue to plague black children and their families, and it is critical that our school district lead so that others will follow.”

This year’s keynote speaker is Brandon Cosby, executive director of Flanner House Indianapolis; youth speaker is the Rev. Carlos Perkins, senior pastor of Bethel Cathedral A.M.E. Church in Zionsville.

When searching for speakers, Payne said she looks for someone whose track record over time exhibits an ethic that mirrors Dr. King’s work for the good of the total community.

“They are guardians of the culture, traditions and the history of our people and make sure our children understand who they are, where they come from, and what they must do to emulate this mindset,” she said. “Both Brandon and Rev. Perkins have met these requirements.”

Musical tributes will feature the Crispus Attucks High School Concert Choir and Newcomer Music Group. IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson and Board of School Commissioners President Michael O’Connor will speak on the importance of this annual district tribute. The event will also include a special performance by the Building Blocks Academy scholars.

Overall, the goal of the event is the same year after year.

“Our hope is that the young people of all races and nationalities who experience this event throughout the years will take up the mantle and put Dr. King’s profound words into action, so that one day we really will overcome the hatred, bigotry and racism so prevalent in this society,” said Payne.

The 39th Annual IPS Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When: 10–11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17.

Where: Crispus Attucks High School Main Auditorium, 1140 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.

Cost: Free and open to the community.

A live stream of the program will begin at 10 a.m. The live stream can be accessed on from the IPS homepage at www.myips.org/mlktribute.

Additionally, the IPS tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the district will also participate in the:

Madam Walker Legacy Center’s

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration

10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20 | Madam Walker Legacy Center, 617 Indiana Ave.

Keynote Speaker is Kevin Richardson of “The Exonerated Five.”

During the Walker celebration, the Crispus Attucks JROTC and Concert Choir will perform and students from Arsenal Tech’s Law & Public Policy program will participate in a panel discussion with Richardson.