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2017 Annual MLK “Freedom Rally” Moves to Convention Center

The 11th annual MLK Day “Freedom Rally” and Celebration is moving to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to accommodate larger crowds expected at an expanded four-day program from Friday, Jan. 13 through Monday, Jan. 16, the federal and state MLK holiday.

“Now more than ever, we need to promote the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said HCDP Chair Bennie Swans, who is also founder and chair of the Carolina African American Heritage Foundation (CAAHF). Together with the City of Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, CAAHF is a sponsor of the weekend’s activities.

The “Freedom Rally” hosts popular events throughout the holiday weekend. Saturday includes the 5K Freedom Run, the jobs fair and small-business procurement workshop, and the youth talent show. Ecumenical services and an evening musical tribute to Dr. King will be held on Sunday. On Monday, the MLK “Drum Major” awards will be presented at the Corporate and Community Breakfast, and the Parade at Noon will conclude the celebration.

Swans noted that the 2017 commemoration has been “kicked up a couple of notches” with the addition of a MLK film festival and an all-day seminar geared for local businesses.

Special Guest at Film Festival Saturday Matinee

The film festival features eight movies and documentaries centered around Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, including the Selma Pettus Bridge “Bloody Sunday” incident, the March on Washington, and the Freedom Riders. Screenings take place on Friday and Saturday.

The Saturday matinee, geared toward school students 10 to 16 years old, will show the Disney movie Selma, Lord, Selma, starring Jurnee Smollett (now in the TV series Underground), and the documentary Here Am I, Send Me. The documentary tells the story of the murder and martyrdom of young Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels in 1965 shortly after Bloody Sunday. Special guest Rev. Judith Upham of Texas will attend this screening.

“We are so very pleased to have Rev. Judith Upham joining us for the weekend,” said Swans. “Rev. Upham was a fellow seminarian and close friend of Jonathan Daniels. She participated in the Civil Rights marches and events in 1965.  She will talk to the school kids on Saturday, and preach on Sunday morning at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island .”

Seminar for Local Businesses

“Translating Diversity into Economic and Social Value” is the topic for an all-day seminar on Friday to be led by Dr. Graeme Coetzer, director of the Institute of Community Development at the College of Charleston.

Swans pointed out that this particular program is specially geared toward the business community to show – in a non-confrontational fashion – how diversity can improve and enhance workplaces and profit centers.

Schedule and Ticket Information

All events except the 5K Run, Parade and church services take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, 2101 N. Oak Street. Parking is free.

Most events are free. Tickets to the Monday, Jan. 16 Corporate and Community Breakfast are $25 each. Tables of 8-10 persons may be reserved and purchased by calling Bennie Swans, (843)251-2061.



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