MLK "Drive For Justice" car parade draws hundreds in Southfield, despite pandemic

Posted at 12:30 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 12:30:37-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Community leaders around metro Detroit honored Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. on Monday, more than 52 years after the civil rights icon was murdered in Memphis.

Jan. 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Jr., Day was marked with both in-person and virtual events to celebrate King's legacy.

In Oakland County, an annual event that usually draws thousands of people adapted due to the pandemic; the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force organized a "Drive for Justice Car Parade" in place of the traditional peace march they organize each year.

Nearly 200 cars RSVP'd for the event. which started at Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield.

“We’ll be heading through the neighborhoods, enjoying the drive and the momentum and the uplifting of Martin Luther King and what he stood for. And then we'll be going to Southfield Civic for the food distribution," said Yvette Ware-Devuall with Hope United Methodist.

Barbara Purifoy-Seldon, the Task Force's current treasurer and longtime participant of Monday's MLK Day event, said giving back was an important aspect of the justice drive.

“People can drive up, pop their trunk. We're going to be in our masks and our shields with our gloves," she said.

“Nothing in COVID is like it used to be but I am encouraged with how we have adapted," said longtime event participant Dave Coulter, the Oakland County Executive.

Those not driving were able to follow along via a virtual online ceremony.

Local educators are using the event, albeit adjusted due to the pandemic, as a teaching tool.

“While we are not having formal classes, we are strongly encouraging all of our students, all of our families and all of our teachers to do service projects today," said Southfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Green, who said several Southfield students were in attendance for the justice drive.

“The things that happened at our Capitol in Washington D.C. it tells us that okay we need to regroup and take a look and reunify.” said Purifoy-Seldon.

“This is just a great reminder of the work that we still have to do," Coulter told Action News.

Charles Hicks, President of the Southfield Board of Education said the event is also a chance for young people to connect with those who stood up for justice before them, and to realize the important of carrying the same torch.

"Many of their parents and their grandparents were part of the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. And unfortunately with all of the social injustice that's happening currently many of the same issues that happened then are still happening today."

In addition to the car parade, the following MLK Day Events are taking place in Oakland County on Monday:

In-person events:

MLK Service Day Food Distribution at Brightmoor Christian Church, 40800 W. 13 Mile Rd., Novi

  • Event runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

All virtual events:

Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)/AJC All People’s Breakfast honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Virtual program begins at 8:00 a.m.
  • West Bloomfield Township Public Library Virtual MLK Event
    • County Executive Coulter to address virtual participants during a watch party that begins at 2:00 p.m.
  • Farmington Community Library’s Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Farmington IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Acceptance) panel discussion
  • Troy-area Interfaith Group in partnership with the City of Troy and Troy Police Department
    • Program begins at 7:00 p.m.
    • Video available on Troy-area Interfaith Group YouTube channel.