Wintersteen: Why celebrate MLK Jr. Day now?

Posted 12/23/20

For 23 years, the Town of Paradise Valley has had a tradition of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with an in-person celebration and luncheon, and this year, while dramatically different in some …

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Wintersteen: Why celebrate MLK Jr. Day now?


For 23 years, the Town of Paradise Valley has had a tradition of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with an in-person celebration and luncheon, and this year, while dramatically different in some ways, will be no different in many ways.

But there is a big difference between the Jan. 18, 2021, celebration and the past 22 celebrations — this time, due to COVID-19, the celebration will be virtual, all on-line.

Other differences? Of course, there won’t be a luncheon for everyone to socialize and talk over the content of the celebration just before the luncheon.

And it will be shorter, and the standard features modified to better fit the on-line format.

The MLK Day Celebration planning committee is excited to create something new for this year.

The Celebration will begin online, promptly at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. You will be able to join this live streaming celebration from our website www.MLKParadiseValley.org. There you will find the link on the home page of the site.

For those who have to work during the traditional MLK Day morning Celebration time, and for those who want to view it more than once, the entire Celebration recording will be available through the web site of Town of PV Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration www.MLKParadiseValley.org

Why a virtual MLK Jr. Day Celebration?

The Town of Paradise Valley is a unique community of well-meaning, educated and successful people, people of all ages who care about the big issues of the day. But with many gated communities, homes with walls and gates, different religions (and a wealth of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to choose from) and children who attend dozens of different public, charter, private and religious schools, there is no common ground to meet and talk with neighbors and friends.

So some opportunity to celebrate with the neighbors and friends in Paradise Valley is necessary for this weird 12 months we’ve just experienced and will continue to experience together to the hopes and ideals of Dr. King, even if they can’t sit side by side at the celebration and luncheon.

In fact, many Paradise Valley residents and other regular attendees need this connection and re-commitment, in these troubled times, now more than ever.

The past nine months of COVID-19 have shown the spotlight on — and magnified in a major way — the inequalities in health care, food security, divides between generations, and economic resilience. And, reinforcing what Dr. King preached, the great divide between the races has been magnified.

For those who have attended the Town’s MLK Jr. Day Celebration in the past two decades, they will recall that I challenged them in the ceremony closing to make personal decisions and commitments, to focus on and implement in even the smallest ways a better understanding of our own selves, our community and our nation, and then to act.

It’s not a coincidence that the theme of this year’s MLK Jr. Day Celebration is “Belief Into Action.” And the subject for the 2021 MLK Jr. Day essay contest is “What does it mean to ‘Do the Right Thing?’”

See you on Monday, Jan. 18, for the MLK Jr. Day Celebration.

This year — now more than ever — we need to find new ways to foster our personal relationships and to take action to make our community and nation stronger. In this year, and more coming, of trial, we can find new opportunities to do these things, using the Internet and the many channels to connect and discuss.

Whether it’s Zoom, Fuze, Google Teams or any of the other platforms, we can learn new ways to do the best things in our past. Who would have thought that among the many terrible things we must deal with, there would be unexpected opportunities we can use in the future!

So now, no fellowship and face-to-face ceremony, but also no local travel, no exposure to illness in close quarters, no gatherings and thus no risk of illness.

Please join us on Monday, Jan. 18, for the Paradise Valley, Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. This year’s event will be a live streaming event which can be accessed through www.MLKParadiseValley.org. The event will start promptly at 11 a.m. but will be recorded.

Editor’s Note: John Wintersteen is a longtime Paradise Valley resident and community advocate.