Pandemic forces change to MLK celebrations in the Coastal Empire, Lowcountry

Pandemic forces change to MLK celebrations in the Coastal Empire, Lowcountry
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his famous "I Have A Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights.

EFFINGHAM CO., Ga. (WTOC) - Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday and if you were hoping to honor Dr. King’s legacy ahead of time, there are a few options in the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire.

MLK Day faced a few obstacles this year due to COVID-19, but in many towns, there’s at least one celebration if not more.

Gathering, volunteering, and marching are all staples of MLK weekend and MLK Day celebrations. But this year, things will look a bit different. Many organizations worried about how they would be able to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy while keeping people safe. In many cases, virtual options have been established.

Effingham County and Glennville in Tattnall County will be holding drive-through parades in celebrations. Richmond Hill in Bryan County has decided to move its parade to a virtual format. Many towns and organizations are inviting those who don’t live in their community to still participate online.

In the South Carolina Lowcountry, Hilton Head Island moved its entire five-day program to a virtual format except for two events.

“So, we pretty much are going all virtual this year except for a few in-person event things that we are doing. We are doing a drive-in parade which is not really in-person, but sort of. And then we have a cemetery cleanup and the cemetery cleanup is on Saturday and driving parade of courses on Monday,” said Galen Miller, MLK Committee President.

And there won’t be crowds and gatherings this year for Tybee’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, the Tybee MLK organization put together a virtual presentation that Coordinator Julia Pearce says is just as important for people to participate in. The video presentation will include Chatham County students who wrote essays, a speech from the NAACP President of Savannah, and a singing performance. The theme this year is “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” which was a phrase coined by Dr. King.

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