‘Honor, educate and celebrate’
Local MLK celebrations will include march, banquet, worship service
ASHLEY D. THOMAS
“Honor, educate and celebrate” is the theme of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in Daytona Beach.
The Rev. John T. Long, pastor of Tubman-King Community Church, is the chairperson of MLK Celebration for Florida, the group that puts on the weekend of events commemorating the life of King.
Like years past, Long says a march, banquet and community day have all been planned.
The 33rd annual banquet scheduled for Thursday night falls on what would have been King’s 86th birthday. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Event helps students
Scholarship money from ticket sales will be raised for local high school and college students while honoring the life of King. It will be held at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, 101 N. Atlantic Ave. at 6:30 p.m.
The keynote speaker will be former Circuit Court Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who gained notoriety presiding over the Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando in 2011. Perry currently works for the Morgan & Morgan law firm.
Long says Perry was on the list for speaking last year but as a sitting judge, he could not speak at events where money was raised or tickets were sold.
Eight scholarships will be awarded at the banquet this year, including a pair of scholarships to students already enrolled in higher education.
“We are awarding scholarships to six graduating seniors for $1,000 and for the first time we are awarding two scholarships to Daytona State (College) students for $500 each,” Long shared. “We don’t want to just give our kids a push out to college and then they struggle the rest of the time so this is a scholarship for those currently enrolled.”
The scholarship winners were chosen based on community service, an essay, recommendations and their grade point average.
Free lunch, breakfast
On Saturday, a picnic will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the John H. Dickerson Center, 308 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. It will include a free lunch and health screenings open to the public.
On Monday, the official King holiday, a free breakfast open to the public will be served at 8 a.m. at Allen Chapel AME Church, 580 George Engram Blvd. The breakfast will be followed by a commemorative march ending at Greater Friendship Church, 539 George Engram Blvd.
Long relayed that the march is to give people an idea of what it was like to march during the civil rights era.
Following the march, the memorial worship service is set to start at 10 a.m. The Rev. Dr. Larry Mills, senior pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Orlando, will be the guest speaker.
Not a one-time affair
The usually once-a-year event will be spread throughout the year in 2015.
“We are going to hold quarterly events working with Bethune-Cookman University throughout the year to continue to spread the impact of Dr. King in our community, educate our young people and inspire our older people.’’ Long noted.
“I expect that it (the first quarterly event) will be reflective of woman who have been involved in the civil rights struggle. It will probably be held sometime during Women’s History Month (March).’’
Additionally, the group will put on quarterly community service events throughout the year.
“We will identify what the needs are, what our resources are and live out what it means to be a servant and to in this area create the beloved community that Dr. King spoke of so often.”
Awareness to injustice
“In light of the new movie just released, “Selma,’’ it brought tremendous insight to the struggle and challenges that Dr. King experienced in removing segregation as the unwritten law of the land. And yet today with all of his accomplishments we still have much further to go,” Greater Friendship Missionary Church Pastor L. Ronald Durham told the Daytona Times.
“Selma,’’ released in December, depicts the life of King and the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. during the civil rights era.
Giving a nod to Long, Durham who previously headed the organization added that “Although our march is symbolic, nonetheless we recognize that we still march today to bring awareness to injustices that we so often face in the African-American community.”
For more information, call 386-383-4177.