UVA Wise 28th Annual MLK Jr. Remembrance March Rescheduled; WYCB Sports Producer Heather Williams to Speak for Black History Month on Feb. 12

March participants with banner in town
Photo by Mark Robertson-Baker II

On Monday, February 12, the 28th annual MLK Jr. March and Remembrance program sponsored by UVA Wise celebrates the theme, “it starts with you.”

“It’s our duty to remember the history—both the terrible things done out of hate and the significant achievements made in civil rights for all. Today, we have a long way to go but we need to continue to make the world a better place for us now and in the future. We need to be good to one another, be each other’s protector and helper and it all starts with each of us. It starts with you,” said Debbie Vanover, chair of UVA Wise’s Black History Month Committee which organizes the annual event.

The MLK Jr. remembrance program was originally scheduled for January but was postponed due to inclement weather and will be held as part of the College’s Black History Month celebration. 

Presented by both UVA Wise’s Black History Month Committee and the Town of Wise, the February 12 event celebrates the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In 1983, the U.S. government designated the third Monday of January as a federal holiday honoring King’s birthday on Jan. 15.

This year’s long-standing annual celebration kicks off with a free community dinner at 5:30 p.m. at the Wise Baptist Church. 

The candlelight march will commence at 6:30 p.m. at Wise Baptist Church and end at Wise Trinity United Methodist Church, where the program will begin at 7 p.m.

Reverend Thomas Sweatt who spoke at the first UVA Wise MLK Jr. March and Remembrance 28 years ago will speak at this year’s program. 

A Lynch, Ky., native, Sweatt earned his bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Kentucky, served in the U.S. Army and worked as a coal miner for nearly 20 years.

He then joined the ministry in the 1980s. Sweatt served as a pastor in East Tennessee and Virginia churches for more than a decade. Sweatt has served most recently as pastor of the Saint James AMEZ in Allentown, Pa.

Several musical groups will perform including 4Him, Greater Mt. Sinai Gospel Singers, UVA Wise Associate Professor of Music Peter Ryan and The Wise Guys. 

Also on Feb. 12, UVA Wise kicks off its Black History Month event series featuring WCYB Executive Producer of Sports and Special Projects Heather Williams who will present, “Battling Stereotype: A Black Female NASCAR Sports Reporter.” Williams will speak at Cantrell Banquet Hall at 1 p.m. and the talk will be streamed via Zoom.

Other College BHM events include:

Monday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m.
Cantrell Banquet Hall 

J.I. Burton High School Teacher Stephanie Cassell will speak on “The Most Southern Place on Earth: My Summer in Mississippi.” The event will also be streamed via Zoom.

Monday, Feb 19, at 6 p.m.
Cantrell Banquet Hall 

Spoken word artist and 2024 Grammy-nominated Queen Sheba will perform and speak. 

Monday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. 
Cantrell Banquet Hall

UVA Wise Alumnus and retired teacher Moe Smith will share his journey, “My Life Has Been a Trip.” The event will also be streamed via Zoom.