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FILE Photo from past Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Naples. Credit: WINK News.

Naples MLK Day event canceled; other SWFL observations stay scheduled

The streets of downtown Naples were filled with people celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in 2020.

While it was a tough decision to cancel the parade in 2021, organizers say they did not want to risk a superspreader event.

“The message he had in 1968 is still the same message I think that is so very relevant today,” said Vincent Keeys, the president of the NAACP in Collier County.

King’s message was, one day, our nation would come together and no longer be divided by race.

“So much division that we have seen, so this has been a trying time, and we have still yet to live up to some of the ideals that Dr. King preached,” Keeys said.

Keeys said they wish they could put on their parade, especially during these times, but they do not want to risk people crowding together and possibly getting sick.

“It would be negligence on our part to pull people together to create a superspreader,” Keeys said.

Many people agree.

“The way things have been going with them canceling most of the activities until enough people have been vaccinated, I think it’s a great idea,” Fred Neri said. “Try to keep people safe. Our numbers have been high.”

Others believe the event should continue.

“At a time like this, with all the negativity and disruption and all the hate, an event like that is very important to keep,” Chad Berry said.

Keeys hopes everyone will still take time out of their day to remember what King stood for.

“It’s time for us to get back to applying some of what he preached about,” Keeys said.

Although Naples is not having events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Fort Myers is holding a legacy weekend, with socially distanced events.

Visit the Dunbar Festival Committee Facebook page for more information.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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