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2020 — Last year’s MLK march was held in Waynesville, where about 35 individuals braved the cold temperatures and biting wind to participate in the annual event.

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Haywood will look far different than past years.

That’s thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that still haunts the country.

“Social distancing is necessary for our safety and health,” said Tammy McDowell, who heads the MLK Committee in Haywood. “We have been challenged with finding creative ways to continue to be connected. While we will continue to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we will do it differently this year.”

There will still be opportunities for education, entertainment, worship and learning about history during the weekend of Jan. 16, but events will either be virtual or family-based.

In past years, there has been a march in either Waynesville or Canton that alternates each year followed by a luncheon where participants can share their stories afterward.

There usually is a Sunday afternoon worship service in the county and on Monday morning, all gather at the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska for a prayer breakfast.

This year, there will be no physical gatherings or meet-ups, but the holiday will still be celebrated.

“Visit us on the Haywood County MLK Committee Facebook page @haywoodcountymlk throughout the weekend,” McDowell said. “We will have various things posted over the weekend, however you certainly do not want to miss the MLK Commemorative Zoom Service at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17 and the MLK Virtual Prayer Breakfast Service that will be viewable after 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18. We encourage you to get together with your family and friends or in a small group to watch and enjoy breakfast or lunch while celebrating the MLK Holiday.”

The keynote speaker for the prayer breakfast is Rev. Dr. Daran H. Mitchell, pastor of Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro.

Each year the Haywood County MLK Committe provides support for the Eggleston-Osborne Scholarship benefiting Haywood County residents pursuing higher education. Both were pioneer educators who left their mark on the region.

Donations may be made to the MLK Committee Scholarship Fund; 66 Hamlet Drive, Canton, NC 28716.

To participate in the virtual MLK Service on Sunday, join the Zoom meeting. The link won’t be activated until just before the service. Visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86173918877?pwd=bDFadjJoYVFEemo0MG1BNkV1VmFKdz09

Meeting ID: 861 7391 8877

Passcode: MLK

To access the service by phone, dial 1-646-876-9923 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 861 7391 8877

Passcode: 156040.

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