Oklahoma City's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Goes Virtual
Like many annual holidays and celebrations across the world this year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will look a little different than usual.
For this year’s celebration, the Oklahoma City Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition has planned for a virtual event to commemorate one of the most influential civil rights leaders in the history of the United States.
The annual celebration comes after months of countless protests and calls to address systemic racism in many facets of American society. “Remember, Celebrate and Act!” is the slogan for this year’s 41st anniversary of the OKC celebration.
William Jones, parade coordinator for the event, said the theme is in response to the division and racism endured by Black Americans.
“We want people to remember the injustices committed against Black Americans, celebrate the progress we’ve made since then, and act so we can continue to be a better nation,” Jones said.
It’s those recent protests and calls for change, in particular, that make this year’s celebration even more important to hold, according to Wyjuana Montgomery, a long-time volunteer with the OKC Martin Luther King Jr. coalition.
“In spite of everything that’s going on, we need even more to come together,” Montgomery said. “We need to keep beating the drum no matter what it looks like. It may look like you’re losing a little ground, but you stop - that’s when you really lose ground.”
Montgomery is hosting the live-streamed event with local radio DJ, D. Chapelle, similarly to how many New Year’s Eve celebrations are hosted around the country. She said the MLK OKC Coalition has done it’s best to make the live-stream engaging for the whole family, by hiding ‘easter eggs’ for viewers to spot and text-in to win door prizes.
Since its first celebration, the event has grown to also include a job fair, student essay and poster contest and much more - all of which are still set to take place, beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, January 18th.
The celebration is set to begin with the opening ceremony at 9 a.m. and will end with the parade in mid-afternoon, with no breaks in the programming. Those who wish to tune-in can stream the live event for free by going to the coalition website or their Facebook page.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be a job fair set to take place via Zoom. Montgomery said job seekers will need to be, “dressed in their business attire and have their resume ready.”
Speakers at the event will include: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, newly-elected Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson, State Senator George Young, Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Garland Pruitt, daughter of civil rights activist Clara Luper, Maryland Luper-Hildreth, and a host of other community leaders.
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