Thermal Belt Friendship Council presents

Martin Luther King Jr Day Celebration

Saturday, January 20. 6pm

Veh Stage

There will be an exciting addition to the annual free Thermal Belt Friendship Council Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) celebration program on Jan. 20, 2018 at the Tryon Fine Arts Center (TFAC), beginning at 6 p.m. Local performers will present an original dramatic sketch about Osha Gray Davidson’s book, Best of Enemies, at the event, which is free and open to the public

Based on the unlikely friendship of a white Ku Klux Klan leader, C.P. Ellis, and an African-American civil rights activist, Ann Atwater, from Durham, N.C., the sketch tells the true story of friendship and community that developed during the effort to desegregate Durham schools. Written by Robin Edgar, who plays the narrator, in a collaborative effort with other local performers, Elvin Clark and Karen McDowell, the 10-minute drama includes sound effects by Harold Cox and voice-overs by Richard Sharkey.

“When I first read the play based on Osha Gray’s book, I thought it was a powerful story that also made me laugh out loud at the humanity it portrays. After Robin and I went to Asheville to see “Best of Enemies” performed to a sold-out audience, we knew we had to do this sketch for the MLK event,” says McDowell.

The Friendship Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes stronger relationships and diversity in the community, received a generous Polk County Community Foundation Free Community Event grant to make this annual event possible. Other highlights will include keynote speaker Rev. Michael Carter, Unitarian Universalist minister from Asheville, and bountiful refreshments for a reception following the program.

Independent of the grant, the council also holds a juried MLK Creative Arts Competition, intended to inspire local area middle school students to contemplate the issues of diversity and social justice and awards cash prizes to winning entrants in the essay and visual arts categories. All student entries will be on display at the event.

For more information about the Thermal Belt Friendship Council, go to

Free event!

Need help? Call TFAC at 828-859-8322.