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story.lead_photo.caption The Rev. Arthur L. Hunt Jr. shows a new Bible that commemorates civil-rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King. The book will be released next week during the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington. - Photo by Frank E. Lockwood

WASHINGTON -- In the nation's capital, on the 55th anniversary of the "I Have A Dream" speech, an Arkansas group will officially release a new commemorative Bible honoring the life and ministry of a civil-rights icon.

The Rev. Arthur L. Hunt Jr., publisher of The God of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Relevant Experience, said his group will also pay tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, at a gathering next week at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Aug. 28 is the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington. Funeral services for Franklin, who died Thursday at age 76, are scheduled to take place Aug. 31 in Detroit.

The Washington event includes a morning worship service and an evening wreath-laying ceremony. There'll be readings from the Scriptures, and songs by the legendary musician.

It is fitting to jointly honor the Nobel Prize-winning preacher and the chart-topping, Grammy-winning artist, Hunt said.

They were allies, spreading the Gospel and standing for civil rights, Hunt said.

Franklin sang "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," at a memorial service for King 50 years ago. She sang it again on Oct. 16, 2011, at the King Memorial dedication in Washington.

Franklin, like King, was a preacher's kid with extraordinary talents, Hunt noted.

"Her voice was God-inspired and utilized. It was a gift, an instrument ... that God gave her with good news for the world," Hunt said.

The son of a Church of God in Christ minister from Dumas, Hunt is a former music industry executive and pastor as well as the chief executive officer and founder of The College of Aspiring Artists, which "promotes creative human capital and talents as a driver to economic and socially responsible empowerment."

The Bible project, he said, was divinely inspired.

The first copies circulated in his home state, but his vision was to take it worldwide.

"God said this Bible is not just for Arkansas. We need a Bible for the nation and we need a Bible for the nations so that people can see [King] as a minister of the Gospel," he said.

The Bible was King's personal library, 66 books that provided guidance and inspiration, Hunt said.

While King is frequently labeled a civil rights leader, Hunt said biblical language is more appropriate.

"We have to clearly define him as a prophet, pastor, preacher [and] man of God. What greater way than a Bible that depicts ... the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob [and] the God of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Our God," he said.

The commemorative Bible features King's photo on the cover and includes essays as well as a timeline stretching from his birth on Jan. 15, 1929, and his death on April 4, 1968, to the present. Featured dates include Nov. 4, 2008, the day of Barack Obama's election to the presidency, and March 21, 2017, the day that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed legislation designating separate days for the King and Robert E. Lee holidays.

Included are tributes by National Urban League President Marc Morial and Yale Law School professor James Forman Jr., as well as Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine.

Vickie Newton, a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff instructor and longtime news broadcaster, served as editor-in-chief.

The Aug. 28 Bible readings and other activities will be broadcast live at, according to the Rev. Clarence "J.C. Loves" Thornton.

Thornton, who has his own online morning show, was a popular radio personality on Little Rock's 94.9 Hallelujah FM, before it changed radio formats.

It's fitting, he said, to honor King as well as Franklin at the gathering.

"She sang at King's funeral and at Obama's inauguration, so her connection to the movement is a very powerful one," Thornton said.

While most famous for her secular repertoire, Franklin's first album was a gospel recording, Songs of Faith, released in 1956.

Later, she won Grammys for her 1972 double album Amazing Grace and her 1987 Grammy-winning double CD, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.

Amazing Grace peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

"She was big in the gospel community for many years," Thornton said. "She is an American icon, so we just wanted to celebrate her life and legacy."

Metro on 08/21/2018

Print Headline: Event for King memorial Bible to double as tribute to Franklin

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