The Newtown Florist Club in Gainesville is planning to host two virtual events this year in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, including one pre-King Day event Thursday evening.
According to Rev. Rose Johnson, Executive Director of Newtown Florist Club, the two events will focus on the theme of “Rebuilding the village! Stand up! Speak up! Be active! Participate!”
The pre-King Day event will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 on the Newtown Florist Club Facebook page, and will focus on educating the community on King’s six principles of nonviolence, according to Johnson. Those interested can also email [email protected] to register for the event on Zoom.
“We have an enormous amount of community education to do to help people who want to be active to really understand what it means when they … decide that they want to stand up and protest for an issue or participate in a march,” Johnson said.
The virtual event will feature guest speaker Beni Ivey, who currently serves as Senior Advisor to Martin Luther King, III.
“She has been active in the civil rights movement all of her life … not only can she talk about Dr. King’s six principles, but her experience in the movement … and her understanding of Dr. King’s philosophy firsthand,” Johnson said.
On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, the club will be holding a King Day Celebration featuring multiple activities, with the first beginning at 10 a.m. on the club’s Facebook page.
The first activity, hosted by the Interdenominational Black Ministers Association, aims to offer words of encouragement to the community following what was a difficult year for many.
“We start out with the recognition that  was brutal to a lot of people … so the Interdenominational Black Ministers Association through their wisdom just decided that it might be more fitting for them to just simply offer words of encouragement to the community,” Johnson said.
The celebration will also feature several teachable moment segments to educate people on the history of the movement, the people involved in the movement and what the issues were, according to Johnson.
The Drum Major for Justice Awards will be presented during the event, which focuses on recognizing people in the community who were nominated by others because of their dedication and commitment to the community.
Johnson said the Black Business Committee will announce the release of a black business directory and community resource guide, which will feature businesses, non-profits and churches, among others.
Lastly, the event will cap off with a youth rally and a King Day march.
“The virtual march is also a teachable moment, and we spend some time talking about march preparation, and Chief [Jay] Parrish is going to come and be a part of that,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the two events are aimed at a multigenerational audience, just like prior years’ events.
“I am so hopeful for the change that is here and the change that can come in our future as long as we make a commitment to each other to always keep the lines of communication open, always listen, and always be able to walk into uncomfortable places to find common ground,” Johnson said on the King Day celebration.