MLK weekend events include family fun day, battle of the bands is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

One of the approximately 115 groups that marched in last year's Martin Luther King Parade in downtown Wilmington. This year's parade is set for 11 a.m. Monday. Photo by Ben Brown.
A group that marched in the 2012 MLK Day Parade. File photo.

A family fun day and battle of the bands are part of a weekend full of events hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee of Southeastern North Carolina.

The organization’s annual banquet will be held Friday night. This year’s guest speaker is Debra Saunders-White, the current and first female chancellor of North Carolina Central University. Previous to her appointment at NCCU in 2013, she held administrative positions at Hampton University, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington and in the U.S. Department of Education. Before working in higher education, Saunders-White worked at IBM for 15 years.

The banquet starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at Cape Fear Community College’s Windell Daniels Hall, located at 502 N. Front St. in downtown Wilmington. Tickets are $75 or $600 per table of eight. Information on tickets can be found here or by calling (910) 763-4138.

Following the banquet, the MLK Jr. Celebration Official After-Party will take place at Wilmington Sportsman’s Club, 1111 Castle St. Admission is $10 and doors open at 9 p.m.

On Saturday, activities kick off at 9 a.m. with the New Hanover County NAACP’s MLK Breakfast. Local radio producer and community activist Harvard Jennings, who was named the 2010 Citizen of the Year by the New Hanover County Human Relations Commission, will be the guest speaker.

The theme for this year’s breakfast is “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice.” Tickets for the event, which will be at UNCW’s Burney Center, cost $25 and can be purchased at the Wilmington Journal office (412 S. 7th St.), the Greek Boutique (201 N. 2nd St.) and online.

In partnership with the City of Wilmington’s Parks and Recreation Department, the MLK committee is hosting a Family Fun Day Saturday at the William E. Murphy III Sports Complex at 401 S. 8th St. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., children will be able to enjoy face painting, games and other activities. The event is free and open to the public.

Sunday’s events focus on higher education. “The HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Experience” will be held at CFCC’s Schwartz Center. From 1 to 3 p.m. there will be a college fair with several schools and vendors represented, including local institutions.

At 4 p.m., a battle of the bands will begin. Winston Salem State University’s “Red Sea of Sound” will go up against Elizabeth City State University’s “Sound of Class,” and the drumlines from North Carolina Central University and North Carolina A&T State University will battle head-to-head.

Advance general admission tickets are $20, and information about where to buy them can be found here.

All the weekend’s events lead to the annual parade held on the MLK Day holiday. Due to construction on 3rd Street, Monday’s parade will run a different route, starting at 4th and Harnett Streets and ending at Brunswick and Front Streets. The event starts at 11 a.m., and several streets will be blocked off for traffic. Access to downtown from the Isabel Holmes Bridge and MLK Parkway will be blocked from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Following the parade, the MLK Celebration committee is offering free tickets to the CFCC basketball game vs. Mount Zion Academy. The game begins at 2:30 p.m. on the downtown campus at the Schwartz Center. Coupons for admission can be downloaded here for printing.

Information about all the weekend’s events and more can be found online at