MLK, Black history celebrated on the Hammock Coast
The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on through annual events that highlight his non-violent fight for racial equality.
Here on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®, there are two events planned on or around the national holiday named for him, this year on Monday, Jan. 16, to celebrate King, as well as Black leaders and prominent citizens of Georgetown County. They are the Georgetown Martin Luther King Jr./Black History Observance Parade, set for Saturday, Jan. 14, and the “Together We Can Be the Dream” March and Community Forum in Andrews on Monday, Jan. 16.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister who became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Although he is a prominent figure in that movement, event organizers say there have been many others who carried the torch.
Georgetown Parade / Reading of ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech
The annual Georgetown Martin Luther King Jr./Black History Observance Parade will take place on Saturday, Jan. 14.
The parade, sponsored by the Howard Alumni Association, celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lineup begins at 9:45 a.m. at the Beck Education Center on Church Street. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and will proceed along Merriman Road to the Howard Adult Education Center campus.
After the parade, at the Howard Center, there will be music, food vendors, and a reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Andrews March / Community Forum
There will be a Martin Luther King Jr. March in Andrews on Monday, Jan. 16. The march will begin at 10 a.m. at town hall on Morgan Ave. and will end at the town’s Martin Luther King Jr. monument, on the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Morgan Ave.
After the event, there will be a community forum at 30 East Main St. The Rev. Dr. Sandy Drayton, presiding elder of the Georgetown District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will speak about King’s impact on society today.
“I hope everyone comes out for these events and gains new insight about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black history,” said Janette Graham, president of the Howard High School Alumni Association.
Graham added that in addition to King, there are many African-Americans who deserve to be honored. They include political leaders like former President Barack Obama, the first Black president; Joseph Rainey, the first Black mann to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, who lived in Georgetown; and Brendan Barber, the first Black mayor of Georgetown.
But there are also everyday people who have opened doors for other African-Americans, she said, including the first Black principal of the local high school, first Black policeman, the first city councilman, and even the first Black window clerk at the local post office.
“We want to make young people aware that people they see every day are part of our Black history,” Graham said.
Mauretta Wilson, town administrator for Andrews, said that it is important to reflect on the sacrifices of the Civil Rights Movement and make a difference in the community.
“We need to continue to pick up the mantle, be engaged and continue moving forward,” she said. “We need to show decency and civility toward one another and make sure that no one is superior or inferior because we are all here to make things better.”
Black History events
February is Black History Month and the following events will be offered throughout the Hammock Coast:
— Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet will present, “Gullah Customs, Language, and Remedies” on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. in the Wall Lowcountry Center Auditorium. Gullah Interpreter Glander Pressley, a Gullah historian interpreter at Hopsewee Plantation, south of Georgetown. This event is free with garden admission.
Glader has spent the past 10 months interpreting the history of enslaved captives from the West Coast of Africa who were trafficked to various locations to plant sugar cane, cotton, tobacco and to cultivate rice. She will talk about customs, traditions, and sea-island based language of the Gullah culture. She will also speak on the natural medicinal home remedies used within the culture. For more information, click here.
— Winyah Auditorium in Georgetown will present, “A Celebration of Black History through Classical and Contemporary Music” on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. The performance will bring together Georgetown-born conductor Kedrick Armstrong, musicians from The JULIA (Justice Uniting Lives in Art) Collective Orchestra, along with local musicians and singers to celebrate the contributions of Black artists to the genre of classical and contemporary music. Tickets are $15 to $100. Click here.
The concert will include orchestral compositions written by prominent Black composers and an array of celebrated songs that tell the story of Black History Month. This show showcases the diversity of classical music as it pertains to honoring the contributions of Black artistry.
— The Village House in Litchfield will present a Moveable Feast featuring Gullah historian and storyteller/performer Ron Daise. He is the former vice president for creative education at Brookgreen Gardens, the former star of Nick Jr. TV’s “Gullah Gullah Island,” and the former chairman of the federal Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. Daise is also a recipient of The Palmetto Award of South Carolina, The Governor’s Award, and the Jean Lacey Harris Heritage Award.
Experience from each of these affiliations are echoed in his two latest books: “We Wear the Mask – Unraveled Truths in a Pre-Gullah Community” and “Turtle Dove Done Drooped His Wings – A Gullah Tale of Flight or Fight,” the first two novellas of his “Geechee Literature Series.” The books showcase Gullah Geechee culture as contemporary through historical and literary fiction. Each story connects the past, present, and future. Tickets are $30. Click here.
By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®