Local 4 News welcomed Jerry Jones, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Rock Island to talk about the upcoming 40th-annual MLK memorial and honors ceremony on Monday, Jan. 16. See the video above.

Here are his answers to our questions:

What kind of events are happening at the MLK Center to celebrate Martin Luther King?

On Monday, Jan 16, we will host our 40th Annual Memorial and Honors Ceremony for Dr. King.  This will be an in-person live event that highlights and recognizes excellence in our community through awards; we do so by appreciating beautiful voices lifted in song in his memory, we do so by embracing the energy and inspiration of our keynote speaker.

The event is filled with so many impactful moments that it is hard to describe and should be experienced.

We welcome anyone and everyone in the Quad-City region to join us and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. Our doors will open at 10 a.m. to begin at 10:30. Pre-COVID, we would see the room filled with over 500 friends in our community including local elected officials and community leaders.

We hope to return to those numbers but to be sensitive to those who cannot attend in-person, and to broaden our reach, we will have a live stream on our Facebook and Youtube channel

Why is it important to continue to celebrate the life of MLK?

It is about remembering the work and aspirations of a great black American hero towards inspiring all to seek a greater ideal and reality. It is about acknowledging the challenges along with excellence that exists in our communities.

It is about recognizing the injustice in our history and how the work of this man has pointed the way towards reconciliation and redemption. The theme is that change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but through constant struggle. Change is still vitally needed so the struggle continues. Remembering his journey inspires to continue on.

Any new things in store for the MLK Center?

In 2023, we have hopes to open a new Science, Technology, Engineering Arts Math Lab in the building to be accessed by the entire community. We are also engaged in work to empower citizens in the West End of Rock Island to come together collectively to make long lasting change that will improve the livability, wealth and power in the area.

For more information on the King Center, visit its website.