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City of Salisbury plans for altered Martin Luther King Jr. celebration weekend

SALISBURY — There won’t be a parade through town this year, but Salisbury will still be home to a multi-day celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day this weekend.

The events, planned and hosted by the Salisbury Human Relations Council, will be an abbreviated, COVID-19-safe version of the typical festivities. While plans had to be altered for this year’s celebration, HRC chair Dee Ellison said the council was determined to provide programming for the community.

Due to the pandemic, the HRC wasn’t able to meet for most of 2020. The council did come together to organize the MLK celebration.

“Even though we were operating on an abbreviated schedule for when we were able to come back together, that doesn’t stop us from planning things we can do to bring attention to the plight of the people who live in our great city and county and try to provide some assistance, education and general knowledge about wisdom about things that we know of,” Ellison said.

The theme of the 2021 MLK celebration weekend will be “United in Service to Remember the Dream.” The mantra indicates the council’s attitude of making the holiday, which will be celebrated on Monday, a day of remembrance and a day of service.

The King holiday is a day on, not a day off,” said Anne Little, human relations manager for the city of Salisbury. “Even in a pandemic, the council was really committed to trying to figure out how to serve the community, how we can support the community this year.”

Drive-thru community resource fair — Saturday at 11 a.m. at Salisbury Civic Center

Like in years past, the celebratory weekend will feature a resource fair at the Salisbury Civic Center that will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday. However, this year’s fair will be a drive-thru only event. Attendees will be handed a giveaway bag filled with informational handouts, school supplies and a few “special surprises,” Little said.

Even though the format of the resource fair will be altered, the mission remains the same.

“One of the things we’ve heard a lot of times is that people don’t know what’s available to them,” Ellison said. “This resource fair helps to put that information out into the community so that you may have everything from education, to child care, to religious affiliated communities, even law enforcement, fire, higher education.”

The resource fair will go until 1 p.m. or until supplies run out. Only one bag will be handed out per car.

Community day of service — Monday at 11 a.m. at Kelsey Scott Park

The traditional MLK breakfast held at the J.F. Hurley Gymnasium on Monday morning will not be offered this year. The breakfast, which typically brings several hundred people together to enjoy a meal and listen to speakers, will be missed by those who participated in the past, Little said.

“I have talked to people in the community about the breakfast and not having it and what I’ve heard is that it was just an awesome fellowship because it brought people from across the city and county together,” Little said. “I’ve heard that people will really miss that fellowship.”

On Monday, the HRC will host a community day of service starting at 11 a.m. at Kelsey Scott Park. Not only will the Human Relations Council lead a clean-up, but the council will also announce its formal adoption of the park. 

By taking responsibility for the park, Ellison said, she hopes that it will signal to citizens that the HRC is committed to doing more for the community in 2021. That means taking care of the park, but it also means offering more programs and resources.

“We are changing to meet the needs of our community,” Ellison said. “We have started an education and workshops committee that will allow us to reach out to the community and provide some education.”

Ellison said that the council is forming partnerships with the Salisbury Police Department and other organizations.

“We are going further to be able to do more,” Ellison said.

Following the cleanup at Kelsey Scott Park, the HRC plans on taking donations to Rowan Helping Ministries. 

Virtual MLK Program — Monday at 2 p.m. on Facebook and WSRG-TV

At 2 p.m. on Monday, a virtual MLK program will be broadcast on Facebook and on WSRG-TV. The program will consist of a mix of pre-recorded messages and speeches from local political leaders, including Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Rowan County Chairman Greg Edds, as well as messages from members of the HRC and other groups.

The program, Little said, will still have a ceremonious ringing of the bell to commemorate the 39 years of King’s life.

More information can be found on the Salisbury Human Relations Council Facebook page and the City of Salisbury website. For more information Little can be reached at 704-638-5218 or by email at anne.little@salisburync.gov.

Mount Zion Baptist Church announces plans

For the first time ever, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church’s community-wide Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and awards program will be held virtually. The 44th edition of the annual program can viewed on the church’s Facebook page on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr., the 12th president of Livingstone College, will be the event’s guest speaker and Rev. Nilous Avery II will be the host pastor. The 2021 Humanitarian Service award will be given to Wilson Cherry, director of community affairs at Rowan Vocational Opportunities, Inc., and Keith Duren, community advocate.

More information can be found by calling Dixie Dalton at 704-267-0794.

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