PIEDMONT -- The life and accomplishments of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be celebrated for the 17th year in Piedmont.

The event, sponsored by the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee with organizer Lois Corrin, is free and open to the public.

There are some changes to the program this year. There will not be a community potluck as in years past where people brought foods to share reflecting their diverse cultures. Instead, light refreshments will be served.

The Oaktown Jazz Workshop will perform, as well as youth groups the Piedmont Choirs Ensemble, Oakland School for the Arts One Voice Choir and the Oakland Youth Chorus.

The film of King's "I Have a Dream" speech will also not be shown this year, Corrin said.

In attendance will be city officials, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee.

Corrin said King's message is as relevant today as it was 46 years ago when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his Lorraine Motel room in Memphis where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city.

"There are still challenges to voting and women's rights. The (commemoration) always reminds we still need to talk in a fully inclusive way," Corrin said. "I'm thrilled with my own persnal connection to this event, and initiating it."

At 35, King was the youngest man ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his unrelenting pursuit of civil rights with non-violence. He is the only non-U.S. president to have a national holiday in his honor.

King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, grew up in segregated Atlanta and received his doctorate from Boston University. In 1963, he helped lead the famous "March on Washington," which drew more than 250,000 people to rally for social change and equality.

Over his career, he was arrested more than 20 times and assaulted numerous times. He was awarded five honorary degrees and was named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine in 1963. He shifted his focus toward economic justice from 1965 to 1968 to champion the "Poor People's Campaign" to create a multiracial coalition of impoverished Americans to advocate for social change.

IF YOU GO
What: 17th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Piedmont
When: 1 to 4 p.m., Monday
Where: Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Ave., Piedmont
Cost: free and open to public