Mike Huggins hopes that African-American teens will be inspired by the ceremony.
The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial will finally be dedicated this Sunday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The original ceremony was canceled on Aug. 28 due to the imminent threat of Hurricane Irene. Comfortable fall weather is expected this weekend, however, and despite the earlier setback, organizations from across the country are planning to attend.
Most notably, one unemployed Ohio man wants to ensure that a demographic very dear to Dr. King's heart is in attendance: Black youth. Toledo native Mike Huggins is working to raise money to sponsor area teens from the Frederick Douglass Community Association and local YMCAs to attend the event he’s calling “a momentous occasion.”
“Black youth need a stronger message to do the positive thing out here," Huggins tells BET.com. “I’m laid off right now and I just want to do my part in helping to create that change.”
Although the 45-year-old steelworker lost his job of five years at a local steel plant in May, he has dedicated himself to bringing young African-Americans to Washington to honor King and his cause.
Huggins is over halfway to filling one bus and has three on hold with Blue Lakes Charter & Tours. He hopes he can fill each one, but he cannot fund the trip alone.
The dedication was originally scheduled to take place on the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic March on Washington, at which he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech. The new date coincides with the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March, another epic event that brought busloads of African-Americans to Washington, D.C. in 1995.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the official dedication starting at 9 a.m. Sunday, in addition to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, civil rights leaders and members of King’s family.
“I hope that students are uplifted when they leave to help make changes in their life. I think that everything that Dr. King stood for is a message that our youth need to hear.”
For more information about how to join the bus trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication ceremony or to donate money, Mike Huggins can be reached at 419-932-5460.
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(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)