Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was committed to serving others, and that’s a commitment that the Black Cultural Council of Odessa seeks to shine a spotlight on this weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“That’s what Dr. King was all about: serving others,” BCCO Director Jo Ann Davenport Littleton said. “We try to represent Dr. King and what he stood for.”

The weekend of events kicks off 3 p.m. Sunday with a gospel celebration at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1000 W. Clements St., with a performance by the BCCO mass choir and a speech from Rev. Bertrand M. Bailey, a pastor of two churches in Mt. Pleasant and Greenwood, Louisiana, who Littleton described as a “very humble minister.”

“We’re expecting to have a large turnout due to the fact that Bailey is nationally known,” she said. “We’ll probably have ministers from all over Texas attending just to hear him.”

Bailey said he plans to emphasize unity and how love always wins during his speech at the event.

“Unity is the key to life, really,” Bailey said. “Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, how people will believe in him because they see the unity of his people.”

Following the Sunday celebration, three more events are planned Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, starting with a 6 a.m. breakfast at the ORMC Community Room, 515 Adams St., with a speech from Rev. Billy R. Ashley of Bethel Baptist Church in Midland.

Afterward, there is a rally planned at 11 a.m. at the Southside Senior Citizens Center, 900 S. Dixie Blvd., where Damian Christian, a sophomore student at Permian High School, will speak.

“Damian is a young man that’s doing positive things in the community,” Littleton said. “Anytime there’s a program in the community, he’s always involved.”

Following the rally, those in attendance will gather for the freedom march, which will begin at noon at Southside Senior Citizens Center, going north on Dixie Boulevard to Murphy Street and ending at the Woodson Community Center. The group with the largest amount of participants in the march will receive a $100 Walmart gift card.

“That’s the only way (King) could get his voice heard,” Littleton said, referring to marches. “When you march, that’s a way of getting your voice heard.”

Littleton said they hope for a large turnout this year, inviting everyone to participate, and said their march every year has grown in participation and diversity since they began in 1997.

BCCO will have another event, “An Evening with the Stars,” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Odessa Regional Medical Center Auditorium, 515 N. Adams St., to kick off Black History Month honoring around 12 Ector County high school students for what they’ve done for the community.

Also speaking at the event will be Damien Thaddeus Jones, CEO of Dame Thad & Co., to talk to and motivate the young people in the audience.

“In today’s society, there’s so many challenges that we’re facing, especially as young people,” Littleton said. “You can be a survivor, not only an achiever.”

Attendance for all the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events will be free, and tickets to “Evening with the Stars” are $25 each and can be purchased from BCCO members or by calling 432-212-6700 or 432-305-0369.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events

Sunday’s events

Gospel Celebration

  • When: 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1000 W. Clements St.
  • Call: 432-212-6700 or 432-305-0369.

Monday’s events

King Breakfast

  •  When: 6 a.m.
  •  Where: ORMC Community Room, 515 Adams St.
  • Call: 432-212-6700 or 432-305-0369.

King Rally

  • When: 11 a.m.
  •  Where: Southside Senior Citizens Center, 900 S. Dixie Blvd.
  • Call 432-212-6700 or 432-305-0369.

Freedom March

  • When: Line up at 11:45 a.m. and march begins at noon.
  • Where: Southside Senior Citizens Center, 900 S. Dixie Blvd.
  • Call 432-212-6700 or 432-305-0369.

Feb. 3

An Evening with the Stars

  • When: 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: ORMC Auditorium, 515 N. Adams St.
  • Tickets: $25 each, can be purchased from BCCO members, or by calling 432-212-6700 or 432-305-0369.