Salem residents pray on the Oregon Capitol steps during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in 2019 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Salem residents can celebrate a civil rights leader's legacy and get help with healthcare, housing and more at this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, anyone is welcome at McKay High School, 2440 Lancaster Dr. N.E., for the annual event organized by the Salem-Keizer NAACP and the Salem-Keizer School District's Office of Student Equity, Access and Advancement. Free childcare is available.

Cynthia Richardson, the district's director of the equity office, said this year's celebration includes free health screenings, voter registration and more as a way of advancing King's legacy.

“Martin Luther King laid his life down for many of us to have the opportunities we have today. And even though the struggles still exist, we have to continue to come together and continue to fight for the things he fought for to get better," Richardson said.

The event will open with prayer and Salem singer Jessica Peterson's rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the black national anthem. Salem-Keizer NAACP president Benny Williams will speak, Mayor Chuck Bennett will deliver a proclamation, and attendees can watch video clips of King's speeches.

Then, Richardson said, people can attend sessions focused on local mental health care, housing resources and financial literacy. The U.S. Census Bureau will attend to talk to people about temporary jobs.

McKay's culinary students will serve a free lunch from 12:15 to 1 p.m. before a march from the school to Willamette Town Center and back.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: (503) 575-1241 or [email protected]