The eldest son of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is coming to Buchanan High School to speak -- seemingly heaven-sent.
At a meeting to consider the speaker for Buchanan's 2011 African American Student Union scholarship fundraiser dinner, one of the club's faculty advisers, Ebony Hailey, blurted out a name that surprised even herself -- Martin Luther King III.
"I had never spoke the man's name in my life," she says.
All the arrangements went like clockwork -- and now King will speak at the seventh edition of the event at 5 p.m. Saturday in Buchanan's east gym, 1560 N. Minnewawa Ave., Clovis. The cost is $40. Today is the deadline to buy tickets.
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Proceeds will benefit Buchanan's African American Student Union organization, which is open to students of all races and provides scholarships and resources that help students to have a positive impact in their community. The dinner is usually held in February as part of Black History Month, but it changed, Hailey says, due to Buchanan's busy facility usage and King III's schedule.
"It's kind of divine intervention," Hailey says.
King III, president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, will speak on a topic related to the event's theme: "Remembering, Rejuvenating and Reforming!"
"It will be a positive message to the students and the contribution they need to make in society," says Hailey, who teaches special education classes at Buchanan. "And he will talk about his father."
King Jr., the U.S. clergyman and leader in the civil rights movement, was assassinated in 1968. He is long remembered for preaching -- and living out -- love, nonviolence and respect.
On Jan. 17, King III spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church marking the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday named for his father. He is the only American who was not a U.S. president to have a federal holiday named in his honor.
"People have been saying it's becoming just another holiday," Hailey says. "We need to get back to Martin Luther King Jr. and what he stood for."
King III also was recently in the news as part of a group wishing to buy a share of the New York Mets from principal owner Fred Wilpon.
In a statement to The Associated Press, King III said, "If I personally, or as part of a collective, can advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports, domestically or internationally, then, like my father, I am prepared to act in that spirit."