Martin Luther King celebration

By Lynn R. Parks

The date for the annual Western Sussex MLK Day of Celebration has been set. The keynote speaker, Seaford native Joy Oliver Hunt, has been selected and this year's honoree, day-care owner Tanya Ricketts-Smack, is preparing her acceptance speech. Entertainment, including poets and a storyteller, has been lined up. There will be displays, games and contests. All that is missing, said event chairwoman Pat Jones, are the sponsors. "It costs money to put on a good day," said Jones, a resident of Seaford and a city councilwoman. "The Day of Celebration is only supported by donations from the community. If the community doesn't support it, it won't be supported in any other way." Jones said that Eastern Shore AFRAM, which sponsors this event in addition to a summer festival, still needs about $5,000 for the Day of Celebration. Major contributors so far include AFRAM and Perdue Farms at the platinum ($1,000) level, Food Lion, the city of Seaford, Delmarva Power, Nanticoke Health Services and graphics company Hamilton Associates at the gold ($500) level, First State Community Action, state Rep. Dan Short, county Register of Wills Gregory Fuller and Better Homes of Seaford at the silver ($250) level and the Seaford Federal Credit Union, the Seaford District Library, the City of Seaford Department of Parks and Recreation and the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club. The Day of Celebration will take place Monday, Jan. 18, on the nation's annual celebration of the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. It will start with a breakfast at the Seaford Fire Hall, during which Ricketts-Smack, Seaford, will be honored. She is the owner of Creative Concepts Childcare. "Tanya is very talented and she shares that with the children in the community," Jones said. "What she does makes an impact for the rest of her children's lives and enriches their families as well as the whole community." "I'm honored, and surprised," said Ricketts-Smack. "I guess you just don't realize that people are looking at you and at what you are contributing." Keynote speaker Hunt is the daughter of John and Otelia Hunt, Seaford. She graduated from Seaford High School in 1997, where she was second in her class, and earned a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from the University of Delaware.

She also has a master's degree from Delaware, in urban affairs and public policy A resident of Middletown, she is a diabetes care specialist for health care company Novo Nordisk. She has served on the boards of the Food Bank of Delaware and the Greater Newark Boys and Girls Club and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She and her husband, Jason, have a 10-month-old son, Jason II. The breakfast will also feature the Twin Poets, Wilmington residents Albert Mills and Nnamdi Chukwvocha, who will recite their own poetry, and 13-year-old Myleah Lofland, Salisbury, who will recite poetry by Maya Angelou. Seaford High English teacher Dara Laws will present a program about Dr. King and Creative Dancing, a mime group, will perform. Jones will offer a tribute to the late Henry Nutter, who served as city councilman for 32 years and who died last year. Following the breakfast, the Day of Celebration will continue at Seaford High School. A basketball tournament will go from 9 a.m. to noon and beginning at 11 a.m. there will be entertainment, face painting, contests and games. Entertainers will include the Twin Poets and Tahira the Storyteller, who tells cultural and inspirational stories as well as African folk stories. Teresa Stevenson, Laurel, will have her collection of memorabilia and artifacts, African-American Reflections, on display. Radio station OC 104 will be broadcasting live with disc jockey Bill Baker. Lunch will be provided for free and door prizes will be given out.

For your information The annual Western Sussex MLK Day of Celebration will be Monday, Jan. 18. It will start with a prayer breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Seaford Fire Hall. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased by Monday, Jan. 11. Seaford High School will host the rest of the celebration, starting with a basketball tournament at 9 a.m. Admission to the high school is $1 and lunch will be provided. For details, call 628-1908 or visit www.easternshoreafram.org Contributions to help pay for the event may be sent to the MLK Day of Celebration, PO Box 687, Seaford DE 19973. Checks should be made out to the MLK Day of Celebration.

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