The peace pleas of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will ring through the Capitol rotunda Monday night when children cup the hands of seniors in celebration of the black leader who fought for human unity.
Twenty-two years after King succumbed to an assassin's bullet, war in the Middle East is dividing nations - giving greater significance to the 2nd Annual Young People's Peace Vigil Monday night.The vigil belongs to young children, wanting to share a dream of the man they know only through textbooks.
"But with the world situation the way it is, we invite everyone to come and pray for peace," said Jan Saeed, member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Salt Lake City. The Baha'i Faith is sponsoring the non-denominational vigil in honor of King's birthday.
"Martin Luther King wanted unity of the world, which is the basic purpose of the Baha'i faith. So we do hope that young and old will join us in this celebration."
More than 150 Utahns attended the celebration last year. Because of the gulf crisis, organizers expect 300 to 400 people to gather at the Capitol to join in song, dance, poetry and prayer.
A candlelight ceremony on the Capitol steps will culminate the three-hour celebration of peace and understanding.
"It (the vigil) is held in the interests of gathering people of diverse cultures, creeds, race and age together," said David Seals.
Seals conceived the idea for vigil after a black youth was killed in a West Valley disco last year.
"David's idea was to help bring youth together in unity - allowing for their diversity, while emphasizing the oneness of the family of man," Saeed said. "King not only wanted to raise the equality of blacks to whites, but truly the equality of mankind."
King's famous speech, "I've Been to The Mountain Top," will be read at the vigil. DanceArt, a non-profit student organization at the University of Utah will perform, as will saxophonist Benjamin Cabey.
And the crowd will join in songs of determination - "We Are the World," and "We Shall Overcome."
"It will be a time for sharing, awakening and celebrating: sharing with newly found spiritual brothers and sisters an evening of dance, music and inspirational readings," Seals said. It will be a night of "awakening to the fact that mankind really is one family and that all of our similarities and our differences only add to our richness as a family."
Seals' dream is that the vigil will be a celebration of "our true unity in memory of the great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who not only lived but also died for these beliefs."
Hope must not die, organizers say.
The Baha'is pray the vigil will have a lasting effect - that it will be used by individuals as an agent for change.
"It might encourage people to investigate their own beliefs and attitudes relating to the oneness of the human family," Seals said. "It may encourage people to take action in some way, in their own family or neighborhood, city or nation, to help those people who are less fortunate than themselves."
Seals' dream is that the vigil will have a rippling effect.
`Celebration of Peace'
Utahns of all ages and nationalities are invited to participate in the 2nd Annual Young Peoples' Peace Vigil on Monday, Jan. 21, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the State Capitol Rotunda. The "Celebration of Peace" is being held in tribute of the birth of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.