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Tri-State celebrating MLK Day Events differently due to pandemic

Updated: Jan. 18, 2021 at 11:04 AM CST
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TRI-STATE (WFIE) - Throughout the upcoming week, several communities will be remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

However, multiple events are expected to be quite different this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville are both planning to honor Dr. King starting Monday.

USI has several virtual events planned all week, including a memorial celebration on Monday.

You can watch a stream of USI’s planned events in the video below.

On Monday, the University hosted Clark Atlanta University Mathematician Dr. Talitha Washington, who highlighted the recorded trends of diversity in the United States through applied mathematics.

She says Dr. King often referred to America as a burning house.

“I think the spirit of Martin Luther King is that we just need to keep marching forward, and we have to march forward with an open heart, and hopefully we can get the fire put out in that burning house,” stated Dr. Washington.

Among other planned events, UE leaders will hold a virtual commemorative march. This is scheduled to occur just before a local leaders panel discussion at 2 p.m.

You can participate in that virtual celebration on Zoom.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke took to Facebook to encourage residents to answer Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to action. He says you can do this by getting involved in your community.

Many communities in western Kentucky will also be commemorating the civil rights icon.

The Henderson-Henderson County Human Rights Commission hosted an observance Monday at Henderson First United Methodist Church.

Rev. Charles E. Johnson, executive director of the commission, gave a few remarks during the service, as well as Henderson Mayor Steve Austin and Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider.

The service happened in the shadow of a year full of racial injustice and riots.

Reverend Johnson acknowledged the events of the last year and wondered whether Dr. King’s dream had been abandoned.

“As we celebrate this historical day across this great nation, the dream has not been fully embraced,” Johnson said. “Or has the dream been forgotten altogether?”

He said that events such as the killing of George Floyd to the carrying of a confederate flag through the halls of the Capitol were evidence of the nation’s straying from Martin Luther King Jr.’s words.

He also stated that the violent riots the nation has experienced would have disappointed the progenitors of the Civil Rights Movement.

“We have to speak up against what we witness,” stated Johnson. “We shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and say this is not a reflection of who we are as a nation, as an American citizen; regardless of our color, regardless of our economic standing, this is not who we are as a nation.”

In Owensboro, residents honored the civil rights leader with a march. The march started at Owensboro High School and ended at Kentucky Wesleyan.

Owensboro’s Human Relations Commission organized the march.

He did so much for our nation and our community,” said Jaklyn Hill. “So I think it is incredible to continue to celebrate him and the things he did and the people who help him with what he did.”

The commemoration will continue at Kentucky Wesleyan’s campus on Monday evening. University leaders are hosting Dr. OJ Oleka as the celebration’s keynote speaker in Activity Hall at 6 p.m.

Dr. Oleka is currently the president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities.

Tickets are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Those interested in attending can contact KWC Student Services at 270-852-3285 to see whether tickets are still available.

The city of Madisonville held the 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Wreath Laying Service on Monday morning.

City officials and church leaders streamed the event virtually from the Madisonville City Council Chambers. The officials honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through song and prayer.

Madisonville Mayor and his staff called for justice in their remarks.

“We have not lived up to the full dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior,” said Mayor Kevin Cotton. “We know that. We see that, and we’re here today to celebrate what he wanted in that dream.”

Viewers can watch the live stream on the city’s official Facebook page.

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