In 1984, the year after the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday was officially enacted, President Ronald Reagan appointed the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King and then-Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean, to chair the King Federal Holiday Commission, which was charged with determining how the holiday was to be observed. Mrs. King's vision was to have the holiday commence each year at noon with the ringing of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia--a worldwide symbol of freedom, justice, and equality--echoed by bells throughout the world, including those in Big Ben in London and in the Vatican. At the request of Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence, Inc. lead by the Honorable Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, was given the responsibility for this observance since the national holiday honoring Dr. King began.
Previous National Bell Ringers and Drum Major honorees have included, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Hon. Judge Lynn Toler, Boyz II Men, Hon. Colin Powell, Hon. Edward G. Rendell, Ossie Davis, Cicely Tyson, Melba Moore, Sisters Sledge, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Leon H. Sullivan and Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. to name a few.
It honors individuals and organizations whose deeds are exemplary of the ideals fostered by Dr. King. The luncheon is a highly visible affair, which has been attended by over 2,000 people, and has been the largest luncheon in honor of Dr. King in the country. It receives national press coverage because of the ringing of the Liberty Bell at 12:00 noon which officially inaugurates the King Holiday.
Our luncheon has also showcased a who’s who of sponsors, who support the Dream of Dr. King’s Beloved Community. Previous Corporate Host Sponsors have included, Brown’s Family Shoprite and Pepsi Bottling Company, GMAC Mortgage Corporation, a host sponsor for three consecutive years, Citizens Bank, a host and a co-host sponsor for five year and Verizon. Other major sponsors have included Amerihealth Mercy, Independence Blue Cross, Lockheed Martin, Comcast, Fedex, UPS, State Farm, Wakefern and the William Penn Foundation, just to name a few.
The Annual Awards and Benefit Luncheon and National Bell Ringing Ceremony are held each year on the King Holiday and always promises to be one filled with excitement, camaraderie and hope for the creation of a truly beloved community. It is a major source of funding for the King Association and its youth development programs.
The 39th Annual Awards and Benefit Luncheon will be held on Monday, January, 19th, 2021. Due to the limitations of hosting large events, the luncheon will be held virtually. More details will be posted soon.
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