Images: Brookhaven’s MLK Day Dinner returns as drive-in Civil Rights celebration

Brookhaven-based Aaliyah Gurthrie, along with dog Louie, listens to Liane Levetan at the MLK dinner.

Brookhaven’s fifth annual MLK Day Dinner was held on Jan. 18 as a pandemic drive-in rather than a traditional home in historic Black Lynwood Park.

Cassandra Bryant, director of the Lynwood Recreation Center, picks up her meal at the entrance to the parking lot.

However, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration continued the tradition of commemorating the civil rights movement, including the local Lynwood Trailblazers that incorporated DeKalb County’s local public schools in the 1960s.

Mayor John Ernst (left) greets incoming DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry with a punch.

The program took place in the parking lot of the MARTA station Brookhaven / Oglethorpe on Apple Valley Road. Attendees picked up a Chick-Fil-A dinner and heard the speakers over the radio in their vehicles. Around 70 vehicles were on site.

Liane Levetan, a former DeKalb County CEO and Senator, is greeted by Linley Jones, City Council member.

Among the speakers was Liane Levetan, the former DeKalb County executive and senator, who remembered her work with the late John Williams when she brought a swimming pool to Lynwood Park. Several other local leaders spoke, including Mayor John Ernst and Alderman Linley Jones.

Maria Boynton from radio station V-103 wears a “Black Lives Matter” mask and acts as master of ceremonies.

“It was an evening of prayer, song and celebration, even in the face of this pandemic,” Jones said afterwards. “As I said in my remarks, Lynwood will find a way!”

The participants gather for dinner.

It was the first MLK dinner after last year’s historic Black Lives Matter protests, so the city agreed to install historic markers in Lynwood Park. The city also formed a commission on Social Justice, Race and Justice that will meet this year.

A sign instructs participants how to use their vehicle radios to prepare for the event.

–Photos by Phil Mosier

Mayor John Ernst speaks to the crowd.

Alderman Linley Jones greets the crowd.

Brian Borden, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, directs a driver into her room.

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