A civil rights leader and longtime fixture in state politics will visit Goldsboro as the keynote speaker during the 31st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday luncheon on Jan. 21.

Former state Rep. H.M. “Mickey” Michaux, who served nearly 40 years in the legislature representing Durham, will speak during the holiday luncheon at the First Pentecostal Holiness Church, located at 1100 The First Church Road.

Tickets are available for $15 for the noon event, which also includes a meal and entertainment by Stronger Faith and the Wayne County Dreamgirls.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Honoring the Dream: A Call for Civil Discourse,” said Shycole Simpson-Carter, Goldsboro community relations director.

The theme is especially important during a time of civil unrest, not only at the local level but also across the world, Simpson-Carter said.

“It was crucial with the cultural and social divide that is being disseminated within some parts of our country, the local community, the workplace and even in the schools that the theme allow us, the people in Goldsboro and Wayne County, to hear and voice the words that symbolize that we are better together,” she said.

As for the man delivering that message, Michaux is no stranger to the topic. In 1956, King first visited Durham at Michaux’s invitation and stayed at his home. King also visited at other times, also staying with Michaux.

It was during those visits that King convinced Michaux, then a 26-year-old member of the African-American Durham Business and Professional Chain, to enter politics.

Even though Michaux lost election races during the 1960s, he went on become a fixture in the General Assembly after being elected to the House in 1973. He eventually became the longest-serving member of the General Assembly. In 2018, he decided to not seek re-election to office.

Simpson-Carter said she is excited to have him as this year’s keynote speaker.

“I am eagerly awaiting for him to deliver a message that speaks to the heart of this year’s theme — that we can and must learn from one another to improve the disparities within an individual’s situation or within our communities but only by first reaching a level of understanding about each other to ensure social, racial and cultural harmony,” she said.

Tickets to the event can be purchased at the Goldsboro Community Relations Department in City Hall or at the door. Catering will be provided by Hunter Hill BBQ and Catering.

The 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration drew close to 400 people. The guest speaker, Addie Wright Thomason, spoke about the prevalence of racist and white supremacist actions cropping up in America.