Mexico, for more than 40 years, has celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year's Noonday service will be held noon Monday at the Audrain County Courthouse.

The event’s featured speaker is Rev. Dr. Marrix D. Seymore, dean of education of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Seymore also has led at a number of area churches, which led to his selection, said Noonday committee chair Jaye Jackson.

"He's in leadership positions throughout the Jefferson City Area as well as my Methodist conference area. He is my former pastor and I know he is a dynamic speaker, and I know he knows how to connect with his [audience]," she said. "He's the first person that came to mind as a messenger for the Dr. Martin Luther King services on Monday."

The community’s Noonday celebrations will start with a special musical about King's life 5 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 400 Lakeview Road. Youth groups and musicians from throughout Mexico and surrounding areas were invited to participate, Jackson said.

"We want to draw folks in and to start to connect and get to know each other. Not just from Mexico, but from all around us," she said.

A 9:30 a.m. Monday prayer breakfast will begin the morning's Noonday celebrations at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Johnson Street. The prayer breakfast also will feature music and a guest speaker. Participants then will gather at Mexico United Methodist Church on Promenade Street for an 11:15 a.m. march from the church to the courthouse for the official Noonday service.

"The city of Mexico will escort us. We hope to have the military academy involved and other folks from the area," Jackson said.

The service will feature speeches from Mexico Middle School students, a youth choir will present music, and there will be welcomes and recognitions from area leaders prior to Seymore's remarks.

King's legacy is a reminder that people have to be committed, determined and love what they are doing to bring people together with a positive outlook, Jackson said.

"We can work together. We can be different, yet we are the same,” she said. “We can grow our community by our coming together as one versus having all the breakouts and divided groups and organizations in the community that keep people in cliques versus opening it up and drawing everyone in together.”

Noonday is a reminder for the community to keep celebrating King and hopefully bring people together regardless of their background and history. "We want folks to want to live here, rather than growing up, jumping ship and moving away," she said.

While Mexico celebrates King's legacy once a year, it should be celebrated throughout the year, Jackson said.

"It doesn't stop on Monday, but carries on with acts of kindness and reaching out and helping folks and making Mexico thriving and growing," she said.

cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com