Most local MLK Day events to be celebrated virtually: What is planned

More than 60 people participated in a recent Hamilton Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march that started at the Booker T. Washington Community Center and followed Front Street to High Street to South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Ludlow Street where it ended at Payne Chapel AME Church. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
More than 60 people participated in a recent Hamilton Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march that started at the Booker T. Washington Community Center and followed Front Street to High Street to South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Ludlow Street where it ended at Payne Chapel AME Church. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

While most Butler County communities have cancelled their Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches, Hamilton is going to hold its event after organizers met with local leaders.

The Hamilton march will assembly at 10 a.m. today and start at 11 a.m. at Payne Chapel across the street from the Hamilton Police Department. Then the virtual MLK program will begin at noon.

The Rev. Victor Davis, organizer of the march, said everyone must wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Organizers of other area marches said because of the health risks associated with large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic they decided to cancel their events or hold them virtually.

Typically MLK events are held throughout Butler County communities and school districts, but those plans were adjusted due to COVID-19.

“It was a difficult decision,” said Celeste Didlick-Davis, president of the Middletown Area NAACP. “But it didn’t make sense to hold them for safety. God gave us good sense for a reason.”

The Rev. Michael Issacs, pastor of First Presbyterian Church and co-chair of Middletown’s MLK event, said instead of having a church service, members of the church community will read excepts from some of King’s sermons, speeches and writings and those readings will be shown on YouTube.

Then, he said, follow-up conversations will be held throughout the week.

He said this plan was the “best way” to honor King’s legacy and follow COVID-19 protocols.

Didlick-Davis said the MLK Youth Oratorical Contest will be held virtually at 2 p.m. Jan. 23.

In West Chester, the 2021 March for Unity in Our Community and the Live the Dream Program will be held virtually.

Residents are asked to make a sign and march anywhere. Live the Dream Program will feature student contest winners, music by the Live the Dream community choir, and keynote speaker Chuck Mingo. It will be available for viewing at 10 a.m. today.

Non-perishable food items for the food panties at Reach Out Lakota and Faith Community Methodist Church can be dropped off at any of the following locations throughout the month of January:

  • Edge Teen Center, 7568 Wyandot Lane #2, Liberty Twp.
  • Christ the King Lutheran Church 7393 Dimmick Road, West Chester
  • West Chester Police Department lobby area, 9577 Beckett Road, Suite 500, West Chester
  • Reach Out Lakota, 6561 Station Road, West Chester
  • Faith Community United Methodist Church, 8230 Cox Road, West Chester

Instead of hosting a live speaker, Premier Health, including Atrium Medical Center, is holding a virtual panel decision entitled, “Building the Dream.”

The six panelists, including Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. and Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips, will talk about how they were inspired by King during the “difficulty of 2020,” according to an Atrium official.

The panel decision will be available to Premier’s 16,000 employees.

At least one MLK-related live event was held in the area. On Saturday volunteers were scheduled to create a Pollinator Pocket Park in two adjoining vacant, city-owned lots in Hamilton. Volunteers hoped to clear the site of shrubs and small trees, remove litter, and build five raised garden beds in the lot.

This project was funded through a grant from ServeOhio that supported community service projects organized for MLK Day. The grants supported 10 community service projects in eight cities and 312 volunteers throughout Ohio. Each grant totals between $600 and $2,000.

To ensure the safety of all volunteers, all grantees followed recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Following a year of hardship and uncertainty, volunteers statewide remain dedicated to leaving their communities better than they found them,” William Hall, ServeOhio executive director, said. “We are proud to support projects like these that have a lasting impact and remind us all that Dr. King’s legacy of service continues to live on.”