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MARCHING TOWARD PROGRESS — A large group of West Volusians turned out for last year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Downtown DeLand, including members of church groups and civic organizations.

Almost 52 years stand between today and the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and the problems of disenfranchisement and racial inequality are as pertinent as ever.

Perhaps King’s belief that all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity is really the most radical of his ideas.

It’s a message that can never get old. Events in West Volusia honoring the legacy of Dr. King begin Saturday, Jan. 18, and culminate on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Jan. 20.

On Saturday, Greater Union First Baptist Church of DeLand is holding a feast fundraiser to benefit local high-school students. For $12, attendees can eat chicken wings, chitterlings, oxtails, and homemade desserts, among other foodstuffs, and support the scholastic dreams of children.

Also on Saturday, The Center at Deltona will host a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m., and followed by guest speakers and a reading of the “I Have a Dream Speech” by a Deltona Middle School student.

Local churches will focus on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Sunday, Jan. 19, including a service at Mount Calvary Free Will Baptist Church in DeLand.

Also on Sunday, Eastside Park, at 209 S. Frankfort Ave. in DeLand, will officially be renamed Tra Thomas Park in honor of former Philadelphia Eagles player and native DeLandite Tra Thomas. The renaming event takes place 2-5 p.m., and there will be free food and entertainment.

Thomas will be the keynote speaker at the annual MLK Day breakfast at Stetson University’s Rinker Field House on Monday, Jan. 20. The breakfast lasts from 9 to 11 a.m., and will be followed by a march through Downtown DeLand to Earl Brown Park, where a community festival boasting live entertainment, food vendors, and a host of other activities will take place from noon to 4 p.m.

At the Sanborn Center in Earl Brown Park, from 1 to 3 p.m., lawyers and officers from the Volusia County Clerk of Courts will hold an Amendment 4 voter-registration drive. Floridians voted to pass Amendment 4 in November 2018, restoring voting rights for convicted felons.

For more information about these events and others, please see The Beacon calendar online, or in print inside this edition and the Weekend edition of Jan. 16-19.