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No march due to COVID, but MLK to be honored in Elkins

Submitted photo An annual march designed to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has taken place in downtown Elkins for more than 20 years, but the march will not be held this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Some participants are shown above during a past march in Elkins.

ELKINS — As has been the case with so many annual events during the past 11 months, the Martin Luther King celebration and march will not be offered in downtown Elkins this year due to COVID-19 concerns. However, organizers have put together an alternative form of celebration.

“Every year for over 20 years, the Multicultural Awareness and Enrichment Group celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday with a march, followed by a program which always began with ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand,’ followed by videos or an array of quotes from King music, or African dancing, and there was a potluck,” a press release stated this week. “Well, this year, we will not have a march, program or potluck, thanks to COVID-19.

“Instead, the group is suggesting that we read a book about racism and Black history. The program committee chose ‘Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism and You.'”

The book, which features the subtitle “A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning ‘Stamped from the Beginning,'” was written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

“This is an exciting and accessible remix of a much longer and scholarly study of the same topic,” the press release states.

“Read this book and find out why and how to change,” the release continues. “A copy will be in the Elkins Library. Books can be ordered from Books-a-Million in Clarksburg.”

The book can also be ordered from Amazon, and is also available in Kindle and Audiobook versions.

“As White people, we need to examine ourselves,” the release states. “Do we think, speak and act as though we really believed that Black people were the same as us? Do we hear a story about a police killing and say to ourselves, ‘He (or she) must have been doing something wrong?’

“If we are truthful, we will find times in our lives where we fall into racism,” the release continues. “It takes great vigilance and courage to weed it out. But it is worth it.”

Anne Kingsolver and Catherine Fagan were instrumental in forming the first community MLK celebration in Elkins in 1995.

From the success of that celebration came the Elkins Cultural Awareness and Enrichment Group, which has been hosting the celebration ever since.

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