earseye ross rsEarseye B. Ross II, who co-founded Grant County's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and is being honored at the ninth edition of the event later this month, addresses a crowd during last year’s ceremony.Silver City, NM – Longtime Brewer Hills Baptist Church pastor Earseye B. Ross II will be honored at Grant County's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Western New Mexico University on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. Hakim Bellamy, who was Albuquerque's inaugural poet laureate, will perform live for attendees.

The commemorative event begins at 10 a.m. and will be held in Light Hall Theater.

Western New Mexico University planned the event in conjunction with Brewer Hill Baptist Church, the Democratic Party of Grant County and the Concilio Campesino del Sudoeste, Inc., Senior Volunteer Program. "Western New Mexico University is honored to join with our community partners each year as our students continue to embrace the many important values left to us by Dr. King," said Abe Villarreal, Assistant Dean for Student Activities.

Ross moved to Silver City from his native Louisiana in 1977 and worked as the pastor of Brewer Hills Baptist Church for 40 years, retiring last year. He was also a nursing technician at Fort Bayard Medical Center for 30 years.

"Pastor Ross is deserving of this honor because of his lifetime commitment to civil rights advocacy. As a pastor and community leader, Pastor Ross has a long record of showing his compassion for others," said Dr. Isaac Brundage, WNMU Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, who is on the planning committee.

Ross was a Bible teacher for the Progressive Baptist State Convention, a member of the National Baptist Convention and a lifelong activist. A Mason, Ross also served as Worshipful Master of Silver City's Lodge #8. He and his wife of 47 years have six children and 15 grandchildren.

During the civil rights era, Ross met Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Dick Gregory and Julian Bonds. Their influences prompted Ross to found an event honoring the work of Martin Luther King Jr., which he did nine years ago.

Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion whose verses have been published on the walls of the Albuquerque Convention Center, a library and inner-city buses and whose poetry has been printed in anthologies across the globe. He has been named "Best Poet" in the Weekly Alibi's annual Best of Burque poll every year since 2010. The musician, archeologist, actor, community organizer and journalist is the on-air television host for New Mexico PBS's ¡COLORES! Program.

Grant County's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration is free and open to the public. Western New Mexico University will provide light refreshments afterward.

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