"This is a movement that took time to work, time to convince others, time to change," Blake said. "By coming together we can confront injustice, eradicate unfairness, and eliminate injustice. Today we take one small step in that journey in time to help create a more purposeful world for the common good."
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett read the proclamation from the City of Cedar Rapids, recognizing January 16, 2012 as a national holiday and a day of service in honor of King.
"Today people put aside their differences to join in this effort to bring peace to our world," Corbett said. "It's also a day in which it is appropriate to review our attitudes, to answer the call of Dr. King and ask ourselves what are we doing for others?"
Special guests also included Tevon Bell, a sophomore from Coe College, who read King's "I Have a Dream" speech. During an inspiring conclusion, Mount Mercy's music theory class performed the song "We Shall Overcome," as the audience of students, volunteers and community members prepared to go about the rest of their day in reflection and an attitude of service.
The ceremony was the kick-off for a day of service in the community. Volunteers were dispersed throughout the area to complete service projects coordinated by United Way of East Central Iowa. Mount Mercy students also conducted a food drive to deliver to the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, the Catherine McAuley Center provides basic adult education and a housing program for women.
Brooke Oehme, coordinator of volunteerism and service learning at Mount Mercy, said the planning committee, composed of multiple community organizations, wanted to make this year's event feel even more like a community partnership than in past years.
"Mount Mercy has participated in the MLK Day of Service for many years," Oehme said. "We wanted this year's event to be something the entire community of Cedar Rapids could really get behind and help support the ideas that we're trying to really create."
The event planning committee included representatives from Coe College, Community Corrections Improvement Association (AmeriCorps VISTA), Mount Mercy University, Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, and United Way of East Central Iowa. Community members, students, faculty and staff members were in attendance for the kick-off on Monday.
To view photos of the event, visit Mount Mercy's Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/mountmercyuniversity.