MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Monday, a celebration was held in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The virtual event featured several musical guests and educational speakers for the holiday.
Normally held at the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown, the event is put on by Main Street Morgantown and the West Virginia Community Coalition for Social Justice.
Barb Howe, Treasurer of the WVCCSJ, said that Martin Luther King Jr.’s message still resonates, especially this year, with the focus on voting rights.
“We need to hear what he’s saying, and we need to encourage people to get out and work for social justice,” Howe said. “The battles still need to be won. There are still people who are not being treated equally, as they should be. There’s unfortunately too much discrimination still going on.”
Mylan Park Elementary School, North Elementary School, Cheat Lake Elementary School, Al Anderson and the West Virginia University Paul Robeson Mahalia Jackson Gospel Choir all gave musical performances.
This was the 16th annual year of the event and was themed respect.
“We hope that they learn that we do need to respect each other as individuals regardless of our differences,” Howe said. “King certainly worked to get respect for African Americans, just the idea that you could ride the bus or that you could vote … if you can’t do those you’re not being respected as an individual.”
The WVU LGBTQ Center, NAACP and Morgantown Now gave presentations on respect from their perspectives. Additionally, Florita Montgomery gave a presentation on history, the importance of the past and issues in today’s society.
Howe hopes to be back in person for the annual celebration next year.
The celebration was also a time to bring awareness to movements that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for, that some feel are in jeopardy.
Howe said with the legislation moving forward in our government against the CROWN Act and banning Conversion Therapy, the civil rights movement hasn’t ended.
“Morgantown has those ordinances, but if this legislation passes, it would override those in the name of promoting intra-state commerce,” Howe said. “So, presumably thinking businesses won’t come here if they have to pay attention to non-discrimination ordinances in a local municipality.”
She said it’s something they are getting ready to fight so those ordinances aren’t overridden.
“There’s a constant need to be aware,” Howe said.