Community organizations, elected officials and entertainers came together virtually Monday, Jan. 18, to encourage Long Beach residents to do something good for society in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The city, with Leadership Long Beach largely as the head organizer, has for years urged folks to consider the holiday — meant to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — as a “Day on, Not a Day Off” by organization various service projects around town.
But with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, gathering en masse for projects would be risky to public health — and a violation of bans on large crowds.
So instead, Leadership Long Beach partnered with Councilwoman Dr. Suely Saro, the California Conference for Equality and Justice, and DreamKreator Studios to livestream a three-hour event — posted on all of the city’s social media platforms — to provide both entertainment, and ideas for community members to honor King and celebrate the National Day of Service from residents’ homes.
“While it is different this year, we must continue to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy regardless of a pandemic,” Saro said. “Because we need to remember the sacrifice he and many others made to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.”
Tammi Mac, of the Tammi Mac Late Show on Fox Soul, hosted the event, which featured live performances from local talent during the first half, including Kenny Lattimore, Sy Smith, BrownSuede and The Reel Band.
“COVID-19 has got us quarantined and safe at home,” Mac said. “But through the available technology, we can still celebrate, commemorate and serve in acknowledgment of the dream.”
The latter half of the event focused on pitching three service projects residents could get involved with from home.
The first project, Silver Letters, sought volunteers to become pen pals with residents of senior care facilities who have been isolated for much of the pandemic; the second project involved the Maye Center training residents to use the city’s Go Long Beach app to report clean-up opportunities and other residential issues. The last project was a partnership with the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion and the Long Beach Food Support Network to assemble care packages to be distributed through nine food pantries across the city.
Folks can undertake each of those ideas well beyond Monday.
The event ended with special messages from local officials, including Councilwomen Cindy Allen, Long Beach school board member Juan Benitez and Long Beach Community College Area 4 Trustee Herlinda Chico.
“I know we all miss being together at the parade and at the community festival,” Chico said. “But that shouldn’t diminish the reverence of which we honor Dr. King.”