FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 11, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the 2021 MLK Day Celebration, but Blount Countians will have opportunities to remember Dr. King’s life and legacy during the weekend of Jan. 16-18.
The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration and March in Blount County both have been cancelled, but a virtual program will be shared online that will include announcement of the MLK Scholarship winner by representatives of DENSO and a reading of the winning essay by the scholarship recipient. Adriel McCord, co-chair of the MLK Celebration Planning Committee, will provide closing remarks.
The video can be viewed Jan. 18 on the Blount County MLK Celebration Facebook page, facebook.com/mlkblount.
The committee had announced previously plans for a march and an outdoor program in the Maryville Greenbelt.
“With the likelihood that social distancing would be an issue, the committee was concerned about the potential of a super spreader event,” explained Belinda Kenny, co-chair of the committee. “Due to the uptick in COVID cases and the Governor's Executive order No. 70, limiting gatherings to 10 or less people, the committee felt it was in the best interest of the community to cancel the march.”
McCord and Kenny said the committee is hopeful for in-person celebrations in 2022.
“For almost 40 years, Blount County has supported a Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration that has grown in scope and participation and become a much-anticipated event in the life of this community,” Kenny said. “Since 1982, Martin Luther King Jr. Day/Weekend in Blount County has brought prominent speakers and performers to our celebrations, introduced new issues and perspectives to attendees, and brought people together in important and inspiring ways.
“Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 weekend celebration cannot include the events our community looks forward to attending every year, but we do plan to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy with a program that prioritizes the health and safety of participants,” she continued. “We appreciate the community’s support and look forward to announcing plans for future MLK Weekend Celebrations and, possibly, Junteenth observances.”
NAACP celebrates virtually
The Alcoa-Blount County NAACP Chapter will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King with an education forum and children/youth program, both held over the Zoom video conferencing platform.
“Building the Beloved Community: Facing History and Ourselves” will be held Sat., Jan. 16, from 9:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and will focus on the importance of diversity in education. Dr. Erika Henderson, associate program director, regional growth at the nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves in Memphis, will be the keynote presenter. Other presenters include Marjorie Stewart, retired Maryville City Schools educator; and attorney Charles Carpenter. Dr. Keri Prigmore, director of attendance and coordinated school health with Alcoa City Schools; and Katy Childs, associate professor of English at the University of Tennessee, will moderate a roundtable discussion to conclude the program.
To register, people should complete the Google form posted at https://forms.gle/S3jWKeUhUeWUHuZU6. Registrants will receive the Zoom link via email.
“Sharing of Stories Related to Beloved Community/Diversity,” the program for children and youth, will be held from 2-3 p.m., Sat., Jan. 16.
To register, people should complete the Google from posted at https://forms.gle/yeSDPrG6vHrEGYB26. Registrants will receive the Zoom link via email.