By Herald News Online
CINCINNATI – The surging Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is forcing people once again to pivot their plans for an event held in downtown Cincinnati. The annual celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy will be once again held on a virtual platform rather than the planned in-person event.
The MLK Coalition changed the event from in-person to virtual during the Christmas holiday. Around the greater Cincinnati area the highly contagious Omicron variant has helped the area break records of new Covid cases. According to the CDC, the Omicron variant is highly contagious and can be passed along to individuals very quickly.
On Monday, January 17 greater Cincinnati residents will still be able gather for the annual Commemorative Parade outside the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center at 10:30 a.m. The parade will begin at the Freedom Center and head to Washington Park for an interfaith prayer service. Everyone in attendance must wear a mask. The Interfaith Prayer service will feature Rabbi Kraus with the Department of Judaic Studies, University of Cincinnati, Dr. Samina Sohail with the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Rev. Dr. John Ivey of Beulah Baptist Church and Pastor Alethea Botts of Gaines United Methodist Church.
The MLK Day Program will be virtual on the MLK Coalition.org web page. Originally, the program was to be an in-person event with everyone wearing a mask. Instead, the program will be held virtually for greater Cincinnati to hear the program’s keynote speaker Iris Roley. The good news is the program will be available throughout the month of January.
Even though the surge has affected everyone’s opportunity to commemorate the actions and words of Rev. King, the limited celebration almost adheres to the King family wishes of not to hold a MLK Day Celebration but make the day strike a different tune until Congress passes voting rights bill.
King’s family has requested no celebration unless federal lawmakers pass voting rights legislation, a task that appears out of reach as President Joe Biden and several Democrats have faced stiff Republican opposition.
Democrats have also been hampered by members of their own party, notably West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, whose vote is crucial in an evenly split chamber.
“We will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream for a more equal and just America,” Martin Luther King III, the oldest son and oldest living child of King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
For those who believe we need to celebrate MLK’s legacy the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be featuring a program on its web page with WLWT Weekend Anchor Courtis Fuller and keynote speaker will be Lance Wheeler, a historian with the Freedom Center. The program will also feature Central Sate University Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Nouveau Chamber Players.