Many Volusia County residents will have civil rights on their mind for the annual day of remembrance for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King became the most visible spokesman and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. He was especially known for his work on racial equality and ending racial segregation in the United States.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be the first federal holiday of 2022. His birthday is Jan. 15 with this year’s holiday celebrating his life and achievements on Jan. 17. He was born in Atlanta in 1929 and was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.
Daytona Beach has several events planned to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy.
“I think it’s incumbent upon the world, much less the city, the nation, the state to embrace the values that are associated with Dr. King,” said Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry. “We are in perpetual need of his vision for a better America. The more we embrace that, the better off our community is. It should be a driving force behind any community that’s embracing the King holiday and the spirit of the journey for justice.”
In Daytona Beach, banners adorn the street poles in the Midtown area. Featuring seven of his powerful quotes, the banners will be displayed on International Speedway Boulevard from Nova Road to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The city’s American flag banners will also be displayed in his honor on Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, the ISB Bridge and State Road A1A.
A special film, “King: A Film Record, Montgomery to Memphis” will be shown free at the Museum of Arts and Sciences at 352 S. Nova Road in Daytona Beach. Show times will be 2 p.m. Feb. 1 and March 1. The event is sponsored by Daytona Beach Commissioner Quanita May, MOAS and 623 Management Inc.
“The Trumpet of Conscience: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speaks” will be a spoken word and musical experience featuring his greatest speeches at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at Allen Chapel AME Church, 580 George Engram Blvd. in Daytona Beach. The event is sponsored by the church and 623 Management.
On the Jan. 17 holiday, a MLK Daytona Beach Celebration will begin with a prayer at 9:30 a.m., followed by a march at 10 a.m. at Allen Chapel. A Community Festival will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Daisy Stocking Park. Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots will be available along with voter registration/education, giveaways, and food trucks. It will be presented by the MLK Celebration for Florida Inc.
Commissioner May, originally from South Africa, is passionate about the film she is sponsoring at the museum.
“In South Africa, we were experiencing our own political/social struggles with Apartheid. What was going on in the U.S. had a big impact on us in South Africa,” she said. “The documentary has rare behind the scenes footage. What I thought was most poignant about it was it actually discussed and showed the integrated effort and struggle. There were black Americans who experienced pain and suffering and then there were white Americans who stood by them and were also arrested and were also beat. I thought that was an important message to show of people standing side by side for a greater cause. It was the value or the principle that mattered above all else.”
Other MLK Day events include:
•Deltona DreamKeepers and the African American Association of Deltona will host an annual Luncheon Celebration Saturday, Jan. 15, at The Center at Deltona at 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. The guest speaker will be Volusia County Councilwoman Barb Girtman, who is also a Realtor and community activist. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance. Tables seat 8 people. For tickets, call Mike Williams at (386) 804-6136.
•In Deland, Stetson University’s Multicultural Student Council and office of Diversity and Inclusion will host the MLK Life & Legacy event at noon Friday, Jan. 14, in the Stetson Room. It will include a keynote speaker, panel discussion, spoken word poetry and seated lunch. The event will be livestreamed and open for virtual attendance. Registration has closed, however.
•The Port Orange Democratic Club will observe the holiday with its second annual MLK Day march, beginning at 11 a.m. at River Walk at the northeast corner of Dunlawton and Ridgewood avenues. Danny Fuqua, co-pastor of Word and Praise Family Church in Daytona Beach, will deliver opening remarks. All community members are welcome. People with limited mobility can listen to Pastor Fuqua speak and then walk for a shorter distance.