MLK Day of Service allows community to give back

Unity Park 2018 honorees Sadye Weir and Rosa Stewart will be honored at a program at Unity Park on Jan. 15 as a part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Last year, a bench was unveiled for the 2017 honorees. (File photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

Volunteer Starkville, Maroon Volunteer Center and the Oktibbeha County NAACP have joined forces to present the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which will allow Starkville residents to give back to their community in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy on Jan. 15.

Volunteers can sign up online at or at the Unity Breakfast on Jan. 15.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service events will kick off at 5 p.m., Jan. 14 at Trinity Presbyterian Church for "A Night of Unity" - an opportunity to interact and exchange thoughts ideas and concerns with others.

Renita Horton, Mississippi State University assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will be the guest speaker.

"It will tie in with the MLK Day legacy of service and giving back, as well as what people can do today to connect to his legacy," Volunteer Starkville Director Daphne Knox said.

On Jan. 15, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service events will continue with the 24th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Unity Breakfast at The Mill.

The doors will open at 7 a.m. with breakfast to follow at 8 a.m. A program featuring keynote speaker former State Rep. Tyrone Ellis will begin at 9 a.m.

Knox said volunteers will also receive their service assignments during the breakfast.

From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Knox said volunteers will work at the Starkville Boys and Girls Club, Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, Oktibbeha County volunteer fire department stations, Palmer Home in Columbus, Palmer Home Thrift Store in Columbus, Palmer Home Donation Center in Columbus, Palmer Home Thrift Store in Starkville and the Camp Seminole Boy Scout Camp.

"We tried to get as many different types of services as possible," Knox said.

Knox said anyone who is interested in volunteering is welcome to participate.

"It is family-friendly, and if anyone wants to bring their children they can," Knox said. "We will take that into consideration when we assign them to their sites."

Knox said volunteers should wear close-toed shoes and comfortable work clothes.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service events will conclude with the Oktibbeha County NAACP March and Rally at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Douglas L. Conner Drive. A program will follow at Unity Park in downtown Starkville.

Unity Park Advisory Committee member Chris Taylor will give the welcome during the program, and the MSU NAACP President Daquan Phillips, Mayor Lynn Spruill and Oktibbeha County District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard will give a welcome. Then, Martesa Bishop-Flowers will give a history of Unity Park and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march.

Unity Park Advisory Committee president Jeanne Marszalak will present the 2018 Unity Park Honorees Sadye Weir and Rosa Stewart, who were chosen for their contributions to civil rights in Oktibbeha County. Brass plaques will be unveiled in their honor during the program.

The nominees must have lived in Oktibbeha County for a portion of his or her life, must have been deceased for at least five years, must have made a significant contribution to civil rights in Oktibbeha County and must have advanced community unity within Oktibbeha County.

“What stood out is the fact that these women spent their entire adult lives improving the lives of African-Americans in their communities,” Marszalek said.

All the events are free and open to the public.