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MLK Commemoration will be virtual

Batesville’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Commemoration Celebration committee will present this year’s program virtually Monday, Jan. 18, starting at 11 a.m. The program will be live streamed from Macedonia M.B. Church.

The program may be viewed on FaceBook live at the church’s regular page, Macedonia BatesvilleMS, or on the website www.macedoniabatesville.net.

Rev. Zannie Leland, Jr., church pastor, and chairman of the Commemoration committee, said he is disappointed the pandemic forced the program to be conducted virtually, but remains enthusiastic about the prospects of a service that gives full honor to the memory of Dr. King, and encourages others to carry out his life’s work.

“The committee felt like we need to keep alive the tradition of honoring Dr. King during this time of upheaval,” Leland said. “We are praying that next year we will be back going full speed.”

Leland said seating at the church will be very limited and he is encouraging families to take advantage of the online service. “We are following every CDC guidelines with spacing and masks and gloves, but space will be limited,” he said.

Monday’s program will consist of solo special music, recitations of tribute, and a sermon. TViFiber has provided free internet access at three locations in the county since the pandemic began, and anyone without internet service at home to view the program can go to the Macedonia Community Center, the parking lot of the Batesville Civic Center, and at Patton Lane Park.

Rev. Leland said the beginnings of what is usually a full weekend of activities was in 1983 when Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday and a school teacher approached him about putting together a small program.

Now 38 years later, Rev. Leland has headed the planning for the program each year. In recent years the Commemoration Committee has sponsored a basketball tournament for youth and a beauty review that draws many young women.

The highlight of the celebration has recently been a morning prayer breakfast at the historic Mt. Zion M.B. Church on the corner of Panola Ave. and Hoskins Rd., and a citizen march up Panola Ave. and through the Downtown Square of Batesville.

Dr. King delivered a speech at Mt. Zion during a stop in Batesville on his way to Memphis, where he was assassinated.