Several Hannibal organizations plan to work together throughout
2017 to increase awareness among the different cultural, ethnic and
social groups that make up the increasingly diverse community that is
Their efforts will build on the success of the initial Hannibal Community
Unity Week held in July.
Amid an atmosphere of racial tension nationally and around the
world, the goal of the initiative is to promote inclusion, diversity and
One of the initiative’s organizers, Faye Dant, said it is critical that
people try to heal, supplant hate with love and support each other as
members of community groups sharing a common vision.
Dant, executive director of Jim’s Journey, a museum dedicated to
Hannibal’s African-American history, said, “We look forward to more
dialogue, discussion and education around an inclusive community
where we all have the opportunity to come together and learn as
The year’s annual Martin Luther King celebration is planned for
Sunday, Feb. 19.
The event — sponsored by Continental Cement Company,
O’Donnell’s Funeral Home and Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center — will feature a program followed by dinner. Previously held at
the Hannibal-LaGrange University Roland Fine Arts Center, this year’s
event will be at the historic 8th and Center Street Baptist Church.
“The University has been very generous to us, but when Pastor
Foster invited us home (to the church), we jumped at the chance,” Dant
Foster said, “I couldn’t be happier. This will be an opportunity for
the church to recognize and thank the many individuals and organizations
who have donated to the Church Restoration Fund.”
Event attendees will have the opportunity to see phase one of a
multi-phase project to restore the church.
'GIFTS OF BLACK WOMEN'
Built around the theme “Gifts of Black Women,” the MLK Day program
will feature black women who have influenced their community
and inspired others. Emcee will be Verna Laboy, a former Hannibalian
and now Columbia community organizer, who works with a committee
to create healthy neighborhoods and is a minister at her church,
Urban Empowerment. She is active with the Youth Empowerment
Zone and Living Large, a program that provides classes and Bible studies.
Speaker will be Gailya McElroy, a graduate of Hannibal High School
and the University of Missouri who now is an attorney in Atlanta.
McElroy will share her experiences growing up with deep Hannibal
roots. She will discuss how her upbringing prepared her for role as the
corporate attorney for the Sickle Cell Foundation.
RANGE OF PERFORMERS
Performing will be Elise Dorsey, the 2016 Kansas City SuperStar
winner and a 2015 graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High
School. Dorsey, who attends Point Park University in Pittsburgh, is
pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater. Dorsey is the
daughter of former Hannibal resident, Yvonne McGruder-Dorsey, and
Co-chairman and former PERFCT executive director, Marsha
Mayfield, said several other women will round out the program. They
include a gospel rap duo; Women of Worship of Columbia, composed
of Adrian Clifton and Rachael Zahn Harris; and gospel performer Tina
• Black History display at Roland Library on HLGU campus through
• “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” at Bluff City
Theatre; details at bluffcitytheater.com. Contact Jim’s Journey for a
special performance to be followed by a discussion with the audience.
For information. 217-617-1507.
• Annual Juneteenth Celebration, June 17-18.
• 2nd annual Community Unity Week Celebration, July 22-29.
• Jim’s Journey 4th Anniversary Celebration, Sept. 23.
- By JOE ANDERSON