Local celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. Day focuses on virtual events, Welsh to host annual parade

Updated: Jan. 15, 2021 at 8:13 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Celebrations honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will undoubtedly look different in 2021.

In Southwest Louisiana, the birth of the civil rights leader is typically honored with events that span over a 4-day period. This year, organizers say most of the events will be virtual to avoid spreading COVID-19.

“Because of COVID, we didn’t want to be a super spreader event,” said MLK Coalition Executive Director Roxie Smith. “If you go on to our webpage, we will have different songs and speakers in commemoration of Dr. King.”

The days-long celebration that has become a tradition in the Lake Area for the last 37 years would have kicked off today with a prayer breakfast and community awards banquet.

“Several of our speakers and guests came down with COVID, with that in mind we took into consideration... let’s put it off and plan on it for a later time.”

Despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and the continued recovery from back to back hurricanes, organizer Roxie Smith says it’s all about being a helping hand for the community--something Dr. King advocated for.

“We’re urging the community to honor Dr. King through community service and maybe cleaning up an area ...Even going out to small businesses, they’re struggling..maybe you have time to go out and see how they’re doing. That is also our Saturday event,” Smith said.

As part of celebrations, Smith says Sunday, they plan to virtually commemorate local figures who have passed within the last year from COVID-19.

“And that Monday, it will be virtual but there’s one event a bike ride at 10 a.m. from the Civic Center.”

The community bike ride will be hosted by Mr. Craig Marks in conjunction with Biking Through the Lake & Meeks Lounge. The ride will start at Veterans Memorial Park and proceed down Bord Du Lac Dr to Clarence St, Clarence St. to Ryan St., Ryan St. to W. Pine St. ending at Veterans Memorial.

The bike ride will conclude with an MLK Soul Food Celebration at Meek’s Bistro. To register, click HERE.

Even though things will be virtual, Smith says in a time of division, they’re hoping this year’s celebration can still help unite and unify the community.

“It has been a community event and we want it to still be that. We want to always remember MLK and what he stood for and meant and what we will continue to do to make things better.”

Smith says all the major events including the MLK Prayer Breakfast along with the Movement March have been postponed to February.

You can stream all this year’s events on the SWLA MLK Festival Facebook Page:

Other MLK Events:

Welsh: The town of Welsh says it plans to proceed with its annual MLK Parade on Monday. According to organizers, this year’s celebration will include a ‘parade only’ due to COVID-19.

The parade will begin at Bethune Park, on to Carter Street, continuing to Millard Street to Fourth Street, to Welsh Street, North Sarah to South Sarah to North Adams, ending at Martin Luther King Street at Bethune Park.

The parade begins at 11 a.m., Monday. Jan. 18th

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