Stetson to partner with DeLand for Martin Luther King Day events

Martin Luther King Jr. giving speech at the Freedom Walk
a large crowd walks down the street with banners
Hundreds of people gathered for the annual march through downtown DeLand to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in 2020.

Stetson University once again will join the DeLand community to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the pillar of the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on Monday, Jan. 17, and will feature the annual march through downtown DeLand, beginning at the Stetson campus and continuing to Earl Brown Park.

Other events are scheduled to honor King, as well. That includes the MLK Life & Legacy Luncheon presented by Stetson’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion on Friday, Jan. 14. This year’s theme is “It Starts With Me: Building the Beloved Community.”

As in 2021, the annual DeLand MLK Celebration Breakfast, traditionally hosted by Stetson University, will not be held this year due to the pandemic.

The Stetson community has been an active participant in DeLand’s MLK celebration for some 30 years.

portrait outside
Savannah-Jane Griffin

“It’s important for Stetson to partner with the community and support one another on a day like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which represents so much,” said Savannah-Jane Griffin, Stetson’s executive director of Community Engagement and Inclusive Excellence. “I think more than ever, given everything that we’ve been through with the COVID pandemic, it’s important for us to come together in a safe way, to remember and celebrate and honor Dr. King and move forward as a community.

“Given our values as an institution, with global citizenship being one of them, community engagement is at the heart of our mission. We want to prepare our students to be active and engaged citizens, and in order to do that we have to engage with our local community. We believe in having our students learn from our community members, and then for us to provide educational resources to our community to make it a better place.”

Martin Luther King Events

Here is a list of the scheduled events. For more information, call 386-675-6595.

• Friday, Jan. 14, noon-2 p.m., the MLK Life & Legacy Luncheon – “It Starts With Me: Building the Beloved Community.” The event will be presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Stetson Room of the Carlton Union Building. Registration for in-person attendance is now full. But virtual participation is still open by registering at

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The luncheon “celebrates the life of the civil rights icon and allows us an opportunity to reconnect with our Stetson University community. We will be celebrating Dr. King’s legacy with a keynote, panel discussion, spoken-word poem and networking lunch,” organizers say.

• Saturday, Jan. 15, 6-8 p.m., a community worship service will take place at the City Sanctuary Church, 401 E. Taylor Road, DeLand. The service will feature the MLK Choir and Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. Presentations will be provided by Volusia County Council Member Barb Girtman and other area civic leaders.

A temperature check will be given to attendees at the sanitizing station prior to entering. Organizers are encouraging everyone who is attending to be vaccinated.

• Monday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m.-noon, the annual Historical March will begin on North Woodland Boulevard at the Stetson campus and Museum of Art-DeLand, 600 N. Woodland Blvd. It will proceed to Earl Brown Park, 750 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand.

• Monday, Jan. 17, noon-4 p.m., the MLK Community Festival in the Park will take place at Earl Brown Park, 750 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand. The event will include live entertainment, food, a basketball tournament, small business vendors/expo, and youth activities.

— Rick de Yampert