2018 YWCA MLK Celebration from the MLK Jr. Parade | File photo

The YWCA Greater Charleston this year will again honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s societal contributions with a breakfast summit, a Sunday service and a Monday parade. 

The YWCA first hosted these events in 1972. Fifty-one years later, it is the largest tribute to King in the state and one of the area’s longest-running events. 

The theme for this year is “Do the Work.” Festivities began Jan. 8 with a worship service hosted by the Emmanuel Baptist Church of James Island and the Rev. George Kugblenu.

Jenkins honored with award at Sunday service

The Rev. Nelson Rivers III, pastor of the Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, will lead the MLK ecumenical service Jan. 15. The event also features the Rev. Herbert Temoney as keynote speaker

At the service, the Rev. DeMett Jenkins will receive the Harvey Gantt Triumph Award, which  recognizes an individual who confronts societal prejudice and bigotry.  The award is named after Harvey Gantt, the first African American student admitted to Clemson University and the first Black mayor of Charlotte. 

Jenkins, this year’s recipient, has spent more than a decade working for United Family Services’ Shelter for Battered Women. She currently serves as the International African American Museum’s Lilly director of education and engagement for faith-based communities. 

She is the granddaughter of the late civil rights activist Esau Jenkins and volunteers her time with Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy. The Chaplaincy responds to deaths, homicides and other crisis situations with the Charleston and North Charleston police departments.

Jenkins has designed and implemented a domestic violence spiritual advocate ministry through University Park Baptist Church, served as a chaplain at Emory University Healthcare and a pastoral care coordinator at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

MLK parade 

Marching bands, parade floats, dancers and other groups will take over the streets of Charleston at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 16 during the city’s annual King Day parade. 

The parade starts at Burke High School on Fishburne Street and makes its way down Sumter Street to King Street before heading to Marion Square.

This year’s parade marshal is K.J. Kearney, founder of Black Food Fridays, a social media initiative that encourages people to purchase food and drinks from Black-owned restaurants. 

Kearney has been a featured speaker, moderator and host for SXSW (South by Southwest), SURJ (Standing up for Racial Justice), the Columbia Museum of Art, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and Creative Mornings Charleston. 

Since 2020, his Black Food Fridays initiative has gained more than 250,000 followers across social media.  

For more event information, visit ywcagc.org. 

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