Good Trouble: Tybee MLK Celebrates 10 Years of Community Activism and Advocacy

A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. on Tybee Island.

Tybee MLK is a local human rights organization and nonprofit that advocates for issues related to social progress and equity. Founded in 2013, the organization is getting ready to celebrate 10 years. This Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m., Tybee MLK is hosting their decennial celebration at the Tybee Post Theater. The festivities kick off with a small parade, followed by a human rights program complete with musicians, dancers, drummers and guest speakers. The organizers invite the public to come out and join them in celebrating this important anniversary.  

Tybee MLK got started 10 years ago when members of the All Saints Episcopal Church came together to celebrate the Dr. King federal holiday at the beach.  

“We wanted to introduce diversity, inclusion and equality to Tybee’s events,” said Tybee MLK co-founder and coordinator Julia Pearce. 

The founders chose to name the organization after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because of his philosophy of love, nonviolence and community activism. From its humble beginning, the organization has grown to about 30 members, and they host four annual events: Tybee MLK Day, Lazaretto Day, Indigenous Peoples Day and the Juneteenth Wade-In. They also collaborate with Grandparents Without Borders, which is an auxiliary organization for the Tybee Island Maritime Academy, helping to support local children from underserved communities.  

Through the last decade, Tybee MLK has been able to accomplish much on the island and beyond, continuing the legacy of Dr. King here locally.  

“Over the past 10 years, Tybee MLK Human Rights Organization has grown to influence local public government policy. We were instrumental in the introducing and passing of Tybee Island’s Race Equity Resolution during the COVID pandemic and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Our organization has also put on the Juneteenth Wade-In before Juneteenth became a federal holiday,” she explained.  

Tybee MLK travelled in 2015 to represent the City of Tybee and Tybee citizens at the memorial service for the Emanuel Nine who were murdered in a hate crime in Charleston, SC.  

Tybee MLK also teamed up with a professor at Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus, the Tybee Historical Society and the City of Tybee Island to form a historic Black Tybee research project. 

“We provide community education about the history of Tybee Island and the impact African ancestors made in shaping Georgia and the nation,” said Pearce.  

The organization is showing no signs of slowing down with some big plans for 2023. Tybee MLK is working on a Tybee Black History Trail, which will open in spring later this year. They’re also developing plans for a comprehensive historical display of the Lazaretto.  

“We plan to travel internationally in April 2023 to connect The Door of No Return in Cape Coast, Ghana to the Lazaretto Receiving Station on Tybee Island,” Pearce added.  

With an eye on the future, while reflecting on the past, Tybee MLK encourages anyone interested in their cause to consider joining. 

“If you would like to be involved in social justice activities, we are a place for you to do that. And we welcome you to join us as we work together in the struggle for justice,” said Pearce.  

To keep up with Tybee MLK, follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/TybeeMLK/

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