Despite the pandemic, locals celebrated Dr. King with virtual and in-person events.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
On Monday, the nation celebrated the life and legacy of the late civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The coronavirus pandemic forced many celebrations online, but some inperson events took place, even locally.
Forty cars participated in a parade down Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard in Daytona’s historic Midtown community.
Community Healing Project (CHP), a non-profit, organized the event. The parade was a drive-through with participants in their cars; some decorated.
“We just want to stay coronavirus free, so we decided to stay in our cars and celebrate Dr. King,” said Dyrell Johnson, executive director, of the Community Healing Project.
“We must celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, especially with social injustices still occurring today. It’s about us coming together regardless of race, color, gender or socioeconomics.”
Zack Owens rode in the parade in his ice cream truck.
“I came here with my wife. We want to celebrate the dream and legacy of Dr. King. We want to keep both his dream and legacy alive,’’ Owens told the Daytona Times.
The route went from the Save-A-Lot parking lot, east on Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard across Nova Road, north on Charles Street, south on George W. Engram Boulevard, west on Keech Street into the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center parking lot.
The Sunchasers and Divine Divas motorcycle clubs both rode in the parade.
There was also an MLK event in Port Orange that day where people marched over the Dunlawton bridge. It was spearheaded by the Port Orange Democratic Club.
A different event occurred at the Neighborhood Networks Career Center at 450 Whitney St. in the Palmetto Park housing complex.
The Midtown Community Development Corporation held a SUDS free laundry giveaway, including laundry detergent, bleach, and laundry mat vouchers for Palmetto Park residents. Books also were given away.
“MLK Day is about service. It’s not a day off. This is a good way to serve the people of this community and honor Dr. King who about service,” expressed Percy Williamson, chair of the Midtown Community Development Corporation.
India Jones was one of the residents who participated.
“This is very nice, especially for our community. Many are struggling with the pandemic. Money has been tight. It’s good that they are doing this for us. It’s also Dr. King’s holiday. Dr. King did so much for us,” Jones told the Times.
Palmetto Park is a Daytona Beach Housing Authority property.
“It’s important that organizations team up with the housing authority because they provide services our residents need. Many have been hit hard by COVID-19. This helps. Dr. King was big on service. This service gives back to the community,” commented Tyronda Bethune, director of Resident Services of the Daytona Beach Housing Authority.
The Daytona Tortugas Minor League Baseball team and Ancient City Temple Masonic Lodge also participated.
Banners honoring Dr. King were unveiled on International Speedway Boulevard from Nova Road to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard on Monday afternoon.
The banners were sponsored by the city of Daytona Beach, Midtown Community Development Corporation, Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP, Identity Church and Greater Union Life Center in DeLand.
Daytona Beach City Commissioner for Zone 6 Paula Reed stated, “We kicked off our historic banner campaign with Dr. King because he changed the world which we live. We want to remember those who matter to us. We honor those who impacted our community.”
The event follows Greater Union Life Center’s Black History month celebration honoring locals who contributed to the community. They are doing the same thing in DeLand. The center asked other cities to join. Daytona joined.
There also was a locally based MLK Celebration service online on YouTube on Monday.
The service had images of Dr. King, discussions and MLK speeches.
Local high school students heading to college were presented $1,000 scholarships.
The Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP, Black Clergy Alliance and MLK Celebration Committee for Florida collaborated on the event.
This year’s scholarship recipients, with their high schools and colleges they plan to attend are:
- Precious Johnson Atlantic High, University of Central Florida
- Tamia Merrick, New Smyrna Beach High, University of Central Florida
- Cydney Wright, Mainland High, Stanford University
- Jacob Williams, Atlantic High, Daytona State College
- Malana Jackson, Mainland High, University of Florida or University of South Florida
- Amariah Hines, Seabreeze High, Florida State University
On Jan. 17, Seven Words from the King hosted a Civil Rights Celebration in the parking lot of Master’s Domain Church of God in Christ at 511 Fremont Ave., Daytona Beach.
Pastors and community leaders spoke on several of Dr. King’s speeches.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry also attended.
Pastor Derrick Harris noted, “We had a packed housed. We had a good time.’’
The event was spearheaded by Master’s Domain’s Youth Ministry.