COVID has curtailed most Clarksdale celebrations but it didn’t slow down a desire to recognize MLK Day and fight the disease that has taken away many freedoms in the community.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day and National Day of Service, Coahoma Opportunities Inc. passed out 300 masks and 240 water bottles from the old Kroger parking lot on State Street Monday afternoon.
“We can be doing something that could help to prevent or cut down on the (coronavirus),” said Mary Frances Dear-Moton, of Coahoma Opportunities Inc., “and then in recognition of Dr. King.”
Family and Youth Opportunities partnered with Coahoma Opportuni-ties in the mask giveaway.
Family and Youth Opportunities has been hosting an annual banquet and parade in recent years to honor King, but the COVID pandemic kept that from happening in 2021.
“We’re going to pick up as soon as everything is OK with the pandemic next year,” said Amanda Dear-Jones of Family and Youth Opportunities.
Dear-Moton still wanted to make sure there was some local activity to honor King’s legacy in 2021, so she initiated the effort to have a mask giveaway.
She discussed King’s legacy in Clarksdale.
“Locally, here in Clarksdale, Dr. King came and marched with Dr. (Aaron E) Henry,” Dear-Moton said. “That was a year or so before he was assassinated.”
Event organizers said the march in Clarksdale was an effort to get black officers on the local police force and occurred just before King headed to Memphis. King delivered a sermon in Clarksdale in late 1967 and was taken to Marks to see economic conditions there. That visit sparked the Poor People’s Campaign. King was assassinated before it was full implemented.
Today, Clarksdale’s police chief Sandra Williams is an African-American female and Coahoma County sheriff Charles Jones is African-American.
Organizations like Coahoma Opportunity and Family and Youth Opportunities are designed to help change economic conditions in the community.
“It’s difficult to do because of the pandemic, but we’re going to have to start doing it,” said Dear-Moton. “If we have to stay our distance – social distance – we’re still going to have to get out and make it known to our community that we need to come together and do whatever we can do to come together. We need to start having cleanup days.”
More masks were given away at the Walmart parking lot on State Street Wednesday afternoon. The masks were provided by Ford Motor Company.