King event issues call to action


Sharon Usher Mann leads "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Negro National Anthem, at the Twentieth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday night. Singing along are, from left, Louis Kalivoda, Rodney long, Jackie Hart-Williams and Janice Nix-Johnson.

BRYAN TUDEEN/SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Published: Monday, January 17, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 11:42 p.m.
Black Americans must trust one another as they work together to improve the lives of the needy in the next 10 years.
That was the message of Alachua County Commissioner Rodney Long in his keynote message at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday night.
"As African-Americans we can no longer blame others for our lack of success," Long told the audience at the Paramount Resort and Conference Center.
"When Dr. King talked about self-reliance, he didn't mean for us to leave our own neighborhoods, he meant for us to support each other."
More than 300 residents, including Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, University of Florida President Bernie Machen, and state and local officials, attended.
Sunday's event was the 20th edition of the banquet, which is put on by the Gainesville-based Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida.
Long is the president of the commission and he joked that the board of directors chose him after they confirmed he believed in "free" speech.
In his remarks, he recapped some of the commission's past doings and outlined the commission's goals under the theme, "Empowerment for the Next Decade."
Long noted a new $30,000 scholarship program designed to help displaced residents of the defunct Kennedy Homes housing complex.
"We believe through education people who are impoverished and disenfranchised can empower themselves to change their lives forever," he said.
He also announced the commission's intent to seek to add more black history courses in schools and to build a black history museum.
But Long took special time to speak to the black community represented in the audience.
"Our problem is we don't trust each other," he said. "If we could trust each other, we could improve our community economically."
Long referred to a need for black-owned organizations such as churches to pool their money to create new wealth and economic opportunity.
"In this decade, I want us to love and trust each other," he said.
Also at the banquet, three Gainesville residents were honored for their service and contributions to the community.
Dr. Cullen Wadsworth Banks, the late Dr. Edgar Allen Cosby and Vivian Washington Filer were inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Hall of Fame. Banks was a local pioneer as family physician, Cosby the same as a dentist. Filer is a longtime Gainesville activist who taught nursing for 29 years at Santa Fe Community College. Also noted was the winner of the annual Edna Hart "Keeper of the Dream" scholarship, Lashay Delorise Clayton, a 17-year-old senior at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.
Long referred to a need for black-owned organizations to pool their money to create new wealth and economic opportunity.
Douane D. James can be reached at (352) 374-5087 or jamesd@gvillesun.com.

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