Community was the focus for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Bluffton on Monday.
“A lot of people have difficulty trying to really capture what MLK Day is all about,” said Michael Maybin of the Bluffton MLK Observance Committee. “Really it is about the message that he was bringing and left for us. It’s not just about, ‘I have a dream.’ In all reality, some aspects of that dream have been realized, but we need to really focus on the continuation of that dream.”
This year the committee held several events throughout the weekend, culminating with a midday program and a march from Michael C. Riley Elementary School to Bluffton Oyster Park for a free CommUNITY picnic.
More than 300 people came out for the events, which is double the number who came last year.
The committee has been hosting the Bluffton MLK Day event for 33 years and now is thinking about extending the programs so that they last all year long.
“This shouldn’t just be something that we get together and do once a year. This day should be the final event of a whole year of events to bring us closer as a community,” Maybin said.
On Hilton Head Island, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award went to the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.
President and CEO Denise K. Spencer cited the foundation’s daily mission to connect people, resources and needs, saying, “We look to all of you to help us in that endeavor. We’ll just keep working together.”
Melvin Campbell presented the award from the MLK Celebration Planning Committee at its annual memorial program at Hilton Head Island High School. He compared the foundation’s work to that of his late Uncle Solomon Campbell in his methodical ways off making a bateau prior to Hilton Head’s development.
“I once got up the nerve to ask him why it took him so long to finish a bateau,” Campbell said. He was told it required a design, a base or foundation and structure, and then a lot of finishing touches.
“That’s how you build things,” Campbell said. “Our goal is to build a beloved community. It needs to be built the same way Sollie built bateaux. It’s quite easy to build something if you’ve got everyone putting their hands in it.”
The plaque cited the foundation “for being the architect in our overall effort to build a beloved community.”
Since its founding in 1994, the foundation has invested more than $52 million in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties through grants and leadership initiatives. The focus has been to “help foster academic achievement, build economic prosperity, achieve healthy ecosystems, encourage healthy people, support social enrichment, and create vibrant neighborhoods,” its website says.
The island ceremony followed a day of service on Saturday and a Monday morning parade. Afterward, a community meal was served in the high school cafeteria.
Delayna Earley: 843-706-8151