Jason Shelton


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even in this global pandemic, our most challenging of times, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Tupelo. MLK Day is a time of celebration, community outreach and continued advocacy for justice. The city of Tupelo is once again a proud sponsor of MLK events in our city. The COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges, but it cannot stop the celebration of Dr. King and his legacy of peace and racial equality.

Unable to have large auditorium events and no seated dinner or meals served in a banquet setting, the Committee for King has created new and innovative ways of communicating and presentation. This year’s events include a full slate of inspiring festivities to honor Dr. King’s memory and witness in 2021 while still keeping our community safe. CDC guidelines will be strictly adhered to in all activities, with the health and safety of those attending as priority.

The events will begin on Saturday, Jan. 16 and end on Monday, Jan. 18. The annual Saturday night Black-Tie Banquet has been replaced with a 6 p.m. drive-in movie presentation of a diverse group of local citizens featured in a film “2021: Keeping the Dream Alive.” Cars will drive in to the BancorpSouth Arena west parking lot to view the production on a huge screen with FM transmitter to access the video’s sound to the cars. Special awards will be bestowed for Community Service, Artistic Contribution and the Drum Major for Justice. Each attendee will be provided with a boxed meal to enjoy during the event. Drive-in tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 5 and under and are available at www.committeeforking.org.

Committee for King has partnered with the William Winter Institute to engage the community on Sunday, Jan. 17, with a Town Hall Panel Discussion of systemic racism’s impact on residents of Tupelo and Lee County quality of life. The session will be led by William Winter Institute Racial Reconciliation staff member Von Gordon and will offer an overview of the topic as it relates to education, health and wellness, banking and finance, and criminal justice. The 90-minute program is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be live streamed on the Committee for King’s Facebook page. This event will serve as a kickoff to a series of monthly programs addressing each of these topics individually to encourage awareness and interactive discussion over the February to June ensuing months.

The weekend will culminate with a scholarship presentation and motorcade sponsored by the Modern Beauticians of Tupelo on the Monday of the MLK holiday. Those wishing to participate in the motorcade will meet at VF Factory Outlet on Eason Boulevard at 10:30 a.m. for a presentation of scholarships, followed by the motorcade ending at St. Paul Christian Life Center on Front Street. There will be no gathering at St. Paul United Methodist Church after the procession.

Adapting to safety precautions, we appreciate the measures put into place by the Committee for King to honor the legacy of Dr. King while keeping our city safe. I encourage you to participate in one or all of these great events. May each of us continue to draw from Dr. King’s wisdom and vision while continuing to work together for equality for all.

JASON SHELTON is the mayor of Tupelo. Readers can contact him at jason.shelton@tupeloms.gov.

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