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Seeking love, compassion, respect and racial harmony for all people.




“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

                                                                             Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Welcome to the 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Weekend. This weekend’s theme is “Love in Action”, and our programs themselves are planned to reflect that theme. Committee for King is dedicated to continuing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in our Tupelo, Lee County, and Northeast Mississippi community through the annual four-day series of programs and events, as well as other initiatives and partnerships with like-minded organizations and individuals throughout the year. Begun as a city initiative in the mid-1980’s to honor Dr. King and the establishment of the MLK federal holiday, the work of Committee for King has grown and evolved through connections with churches, civic groups, fellow nonprofits and caring citizens.

Over the last two years, our programming adjusted to respond to the health challenges posed by the Covid-19 virus. We are pleased that the current climate allows us to revert to in-person programming this year. Please take time to review the information shared on this site regarding all of the opportunities you have to participate from Friday night through Monday midday, January 13-16, 2023. As we come together during these programs, it is our sincere hope and belief that we will each be inspired to respond personally to Dr. King’s example of devotion to social justice, anti-poverty initiatives, and the use of non-violence to promote healing and harmony. The events are open to all, with only the Saturday night program requiring purchased tickets to accommodate space limitations and food costs.

Committee for King does not restrict itself to efforts on MLK weekend alone, although the effort that goes into this weekend is considerable. We give thanks for our many sponsors, Board members, staff, and community volunteers who make these programs possible. Feel free to reach out to us throughout the year to offer suggestions or partnership opportunities.


PAST: Committee for King began as a City of Tupelo initiative in 1986 to recognize and celebrate the federally mandated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Alderman Boyce Grayson initiated the concept with then Mayor Jack Marshall. City Personnel Director Charles Penson was tasked with coordinating the event, and local businesses and individuals were solicited to support the inaugural program at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium and the reception afterwards in the foyer. City employees volunteered to make the program and reception a success. By November of 1986, local citizens, led by attorney Kenneth Mayfield, businesswoman Lola McKinney, and Alderman Boyce Grayson, came together to officially organize the Committee for King. Over the next ten years, the group led the way to re-name part of Highway 45 bypass as “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.”, rename Green Street School “King Elementary School”, and continued to sponsor annual MLK weekend programs with diverse, dynamic speakers. From 1995-2000, the Lee County Chapter of the NAACP led by Viola Foster assumed responsibility for the work of Committee for King. In 2000, Tupelo citizens again moved forward the organization’s vision of advocating for “love, compassion, respect, and racial harmony for all people”.

PRESENT: After a period of discernment in 2018-2019, Committee for King Board members hired marketing firm LikeMind to assist in the task of re-envisioning and re-branding Committee for King. The Board seeks to increase diversity of age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. on the Committee for King and in the program participants and attendees. The Board looks to expand its work beyond the annual MLK weekend. Members of the Board believe that in order to extend Dr. King’s legacy of social justice, anti-poverty initiatives, and use of nonviolence, we must look for additional ways to meet the needs of the community. The current aging Board needs help with technology and social media communication. A NextGen subcommittee of diverse citizens in their twenties, thirties, and forties are planning new initiatives such as “Shine a Light” and “A Seat at the Table” to add depth to our current programs, and to assist with technology gaps. The Board actively seeks participation from those in the community who value Dr. King’s principles to keep his legacy relevant in our shared community now and into the FUTURE.


Betty Beene

Lindsay Brett

Shawn Brevard

Carmen Gary

Marcus Gary

Leticia Gassaway

Janette Kirk

Monica Lindsey

Rodney Long

Zell Long

Monica Lindsey

Lola McKinney

Hannah Maharrey

Tabitha McRunnels

Cassandra Moore

Charles Moore

Charles Penson

Maurice Shumpert

Martha Swinney

Willie Willis


Shawn Brevard: Chair

Carmen Gary: Vice-Chair

Willie Willis: Treasurer

Martha Swinney: Secretary

Cliff Campbell: Executive Director

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