Little Rock, Big Hero: DuShun Scarborough

Thanks to DuShun Scarborough, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, the flame of Dr. King’s vision is burning bright in Arkansas.

Could you tell us a little about the MEGA KINGFEST?

The MEGA KINGFEST is the official state observance of the congressionally legislated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a United States holiday that marks the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and is observed on the third Monday of January each year. The Day of Service, “A Day On, Not a Day Off!” is branded as the MEGA KINGFEST because our observance was recognized by the media as the largest observance in the nation honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the fourth most popular destination in the country for volunteerism during the King Holiday weekend.

The event is “MEGA” in scope because in addition to hosting a signature event here in Little Rock, we also host community outreach and services across the state to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who once said that “everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” In his mind, life’s greatest accomplishments were realized through helping others. 

The Day of Service MEGA KINGFEST is an invitation statewide for Arkansans to get out and serve and sow into your communities. We host community cleanups, free public transportation through our partner Rock Region Metro, free haircuts, free food and services to the at-risk community like hygiene kits, a coat drive, blood drive, preventative health screenings and job counseling. This year’s focus will be on getting the youth involved.

Could you tell me about the work that you do at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission?

I am the executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. Within that capacity, it is my goal to ensure that as a state agency we are serving all Arkansans through our outreach and programming. Under my leadership, we have hosted programs in every region in Arkansas. The Day of Service MEGA KINGFEST is our signature event.

I oversee and implement several community outreach programming and education initiatives year-round through L.E.A.D., a mentorship and leadership program designed to enhance our youth through social, academic and career mentorship and the Nonviolence Youth Summit programs across the state of Arkansas. These teach youth about Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence and provide outreach on anti-bullying, business development and opportunities for arts and volunteerism.

What is the goal of the Commission, and could you give some examples of the hands-on work it does in the community?

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission was established under former Governor Bill Clinton by executive order and then signed into legislation by former Governor Jim Guy Tucker. The Commission was created to promote the legacy and philosophy of Dr. King. The mission of the Commission is to promote understanding and acceptance of nonviolence and human equality as a way of building community among all Arkansans. The purpose and goals are to promote racial harmony, understanding, community service, respect and goodwill among all citizens, principles of nonviolence, awareness and appreciation of the Civil Rights movement and advocacy of the principles and legacy of Dr. King.

What are your goals for the commission for 2017?

My goals are to always ensure that as a Commission we are relevant. I’m always looking for ways to reinvent — renew, reinvent then re-launch. The lifeline of any agency or organization is continuous re-evaluation and measuring outcomes and effectiveness. I am always asking, “Where am I going?” I listen to people, I listen to the community, and I try to meet those needs through our programming. Stagnation and status quos are not options. The only way left is “up.”

Can anybody get involved with the commission as a volunteer?

Absolutely, we welcome diversity from all walks of life to get involved in our events through volunteerism. We are constantly working to bridge gaps and encourage diversity across generations, economics and culture. Through volunteerism, the sky is the limit. It can come in different forms, such as through outreach or artistic presentations.

We are currently working with the Irish Cultural Society, the Asian Community, disability and veteran’s resources organizations and the Hispanic community to host outreach events throughout the state to raise awareness and provide opportunities. In the words of Dr. King, “Life’s most urgent and persistent question is “What are you doing for others?” Contact me at the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission at (888) 290-KING or dushun.scarbrough@arkansas.gov, and we’ll get you involved.

The MEGA KINGFEST is free and open to the public and will take place on Monday, January 16, 2017, 12:00 PM Little Rock Central High School. The event will feature free food, free health screens, a vendor showcase and a kids’ zone.

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