PANDEMIC WON’T STOP ALL MLK EVENTS

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Local King activities will include a drive-through parade and a parking lot church service.

Tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be limited this year because of the pandemic.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday observance is on Moday, Jan. 18. Around the nation and locally, most of the traditional in-person events have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The MLK Jr. Celebration Committee for Florida in Daytona and the MLK Jr. Celebration Committee in DeLand have canceled their traditional MLK Day and weekend events.

Drive-through parade

Community Healing Project (CHP) is holding an MLK Day parade in Daytona Beach on Monday beginning at noon. It will be a drive-through event.

“We just came up with the idea. We figured everyone will get in their cars, ride, and follow each other. People can walk alongside cars and decorate their cars if they want to,” said Dyrell Johnson, president, CEO and founder of Community Healing project. Johnson is a community activist who also goes by the name Rell Black.

The parade begins at noon and will run east on Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard (formerly Second Avenue) across Nova Avenue. It will then turn north on Charles Street turn south on George W. Engram Boulevard, turn west on Keech Street into the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center.

Parade participants are to meet in the Save-A-Lot parking lot at 288 North Nova Road at 11:30 a.m.

The event is facing some scrutiny due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Johnson says safety measures in place.

“We do have to stay safe and take precautions. That is why we are in cars. We are stressing masking and social distancing as well,” he stated.

Master’s Domain service

On Sunday at 4 p.m., The Seven Words from The King Inc. will host a Civil Rights Celebration at Master’s Domain Church of God in Christ, 511 Fremont Ave., Daytona Beach.

Pastors and community leaders will present several of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. Mayor Derrick Henry and Sheriff Mike Chitwood are expected to attend as well.

The entire event will be held in the parking lot to ensure social distancing. All attendees are asked to remain in their cars while listening to the participants.

“We are excited to be able to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. We are also excited about being able to worship and social distance,” said the Rev. Derrick Harris, pastor of Master’s Domain. The Seven Words from the King, Inc. is Master’s Domain’s youth ministry.

Virtual observance

The Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP, Black Clergy Alliance and MLK Celebration Committee for Florida are hosting a virtual event online. It will be live on YouTube.com on Jan.18 at 11 a.m.

It will include images and speeches by King. MLK scholarships for high school seniors headed to college also will be highlighted.

The Midtown Community Development Corporation is also hosting a SUDS event at the Neighborhood Networks Community Center at 450 Whitney St. inside the Palmetto Park housing development. Palmetto Park is a Daytona Beach Housing Authority property.

Laundry detergent, bleach, laundry mat vouchers and books will be given to residents of Palmetto Park.

Percy Williamson is chair of the Midtown Community Development Corporation and the NAACP.

“For the online event, I applaud everyone for doing something to honor Dr. King. For the SUDS event, MLK Day is a day of service,” Williamson told the Daytona Times.

“Palmetto Park is a historic community. We want to serve the people of that community.”

Honoring King’s legacy

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights activists and clergyman. He was born on Jan. 15, 1929. He was shot and killed on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1983, his birthday was made a federal holiday. It is observed every third Monday in January. This year his holiday observance is on Jan. 18.

Activists say it is important as ever to celebrate Dr. King’s his life and legacy.

“This year is as important as to celebrate his legacy. We see what is happening in our country with racism, injustice and violence as major issues. One of his most powerful messages was nonviolence,” said Johnson.

“At the end of the day, right now people just need a little peace and a little love. King stood for that. People are missing that. We need to go back to it regardless of race, gender, religion, social economic status, etc.’’

King’s message is considered still important today with racism, injustice and inequality evident in the U.S.

“His message was 60 years ago. His message and what he stood for was great at that time and even now. Kids are still just learning about him for the first time,” Johnson said.

“Even since his day, we haven’t really accepted any other forms of Black leadership. His message is positive, recognized, honored and appreciated. Maybe one day we’ll live like he dreamed’’ Johnson added.

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