Because of COVID-19 concerns, there will be no Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and no indoor community observance in Statesboro this year. But the Bulloch County Branch of the NAACP has planned a 2021 MLK Day Drive-in Community Service.
It will be held Monday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. in Mill Creek Regional Park. Signs and volunteers will direct people where to park their vehicles, and they will also be informed of a frequency to tune their car radios to for the “drive-in” audio. More than one big screen will be set up, and a variety of speakers will appear and be heard, “some live, some virtual,” said Bulloch County NAACP Branch President Delinda Gaskins.
“And since there is not a parade, if you would like to decorate your vehicle to honor Dr. King’s legacy, feel free to do that,” she said. “For safety purposes, you’ll stay in car for the whole event pretty much, unless you want to go to one of the food trucks. Just change your radio dial and watch and listen.”
As she mentioned, food trucks are scheduled as vendors for the event.
Bulloch County’s MLK Day observances always feature music, and this drive-in event will not be an exception. Talented local people, including Vivian Summers and Pastor Donald Chavers Jr. and the band Impact, are slated to perform.
Participants are encouraged to arrive well before 6 p.m. to claim a spot.
‘Voices … heard’
This MLK Day comes at a uniquely poignant moment in history, Gaskins acknowledged. She didn’t mention these specifics, but majorities of voters in the Jan. 5 runoff elected Georgia’s first African-American U.S. senator, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, and a senator who is Jewish, Jon Ossoff.
“Considering the work that Dr. King did in the past, his legacy, what took place of communities coming together to vote, to let their voices be heard, this day is very appropriate to celebrate, to celebrate our voices being heard,” Gaskins said. “That is one of the things he fought for, that equality for the right to vote, and we see that our voices can make a difference.
“As a celebration to recognize and honor the legacy of Dr. King, it’s very fitting, for all people,” she added.
Gaskins didn’t directly mention last week’s tragic turn of events, either. But Wednesday, extremist supporters of outgoing President Donald J. Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building in what incoming President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and many other people have called an insurrection. The Statesboro Herald had asked Gaskins to comment on MLK Day in the context of “recent news.”
“We’ve gone from a place of chaos, and we’re moving into a place of community,” she said.
One of Monday’s planned speakers is the Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, who is a Georgia Southern University graduate and former Bulloch County resident.
Scheduling for some other speakers was still being finalized.