Due to the latest COVID surge and other reasons, the traditional Martin Luther King Jr. events open to the public won’t take place this year.

There will be no Celebration of Unity at Cowley College in Arkansas City this month. Likewise, Southwestern College will not host its annual public gathering.

A breakfast planned Monday at Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield has been canceled.

There are some events planned, however, offering the public a chance to commemorate or engage in the meaning of the holiday.

Dream speech, updated

Shepherd’s Grace Church, 1125 S. Summit St., will hold a Sunday service geared toward the Martin Luther King legacy.

Pastor Jack Dixon said he will perform his annual reprisal of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The service begins at 10:15 a.m.

Dixon said that he rewrites King’s speech each year to incorporate social justice issues relevant for today.

“That will be our whole worship celebration on Sunday morning,” he said. “It’s kind of a commemoration of that event and hopefully updated to contemporary issues.”

Just Mercy

Winfield High School Library Specialist Tabitha Hogan said the district will partner with the Winfield Public Library to present a special observance of MLK Jr. Day.

Community members are invited to independently view the movie “Just Mercy” prior to an intergenerational round-table discussion that will be hosted remotely from 1:20 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 28.

The movie is also available to stream on Amazon Prime and Hulu. DVD copies can be checked out at the library’s circulation desk.

Registration is required. Contact the library or register with the online events calendar at wpl.org. Registration for the event will close at 1:20 p.m. on Jan. 28.

Be of service

While the traditional Celebration of Unity will not take place at Great Grace Family Worship Center, pastor Charles Jennings said that local churches, civic groups and individuals are encouraged take part in a special “A Day On. Not a Day Off,” event.

Jennings said attendance and participation at the annual event had declined over the past several years.

“We seem to have lost our connectedness and support from other local units of leadership with whom we have historically partnered,” he said in a news release.

Jennings said the holiday is a time to demonstrate kindness through service projects or actions to help those who have limitations, physical or financial.

He suggested that groups could work together to help a friend or neighbor by removing limbs and debris, or by working to clean up litter in a neighborhood or park.

“This is consistent with the dream and the advocacy of Rev. Dr. King Jr., that our lives are defined by the content of our character rather than to obsess on the color of our skin,” he said.

There is a unity celebration planned for February, he added, and organizers “have already received commitment from students to get actively involved as we celebrate our uniquenesses.”

Jennings said Cowley College has also shared links to several national or locally related activities in recognition of the MLK Jr. Holiday or Black History Month. He said those will be virtual presentations. He provided a link to the Northwest African American Museum: www.naamnw.org/events/save-the-date-king-day-program.

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