Commission celebrates King 2012

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.

King Celebration 2012 in Alachua County will feature a man who has served as an adviser to the last three U.S. presidents as the keynote speaker at the 27th annual Hall of Fame Banquet.



What: The 27th annual Hall of Fame Banquet.

When: 6 p.m. Jan. 15.

Where: Paramount Plaza Hotel, 2900 SW 13th St.

Cost: $65; the deadline to purchase tickets is Tuesday.

Information: Call 352-376-2442.

John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation Hope, will be the keynote speaker at the Hall of Fame Banquet. It will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 15, the actual birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at the Paramount Plaza Hotel at 2900 SW 13th St. Tickets are $65, and must be purchased by Tuesday from any member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc. or by calling 352-376-2442.

The theme of the King Celebration 2012 is "Civil Rights 50 Years Later: Remember, Celebrate, Act."

The King Celebration 2012 Commemorative March will be held at 1 p.m. Jan 16 at the Bo Diddley Downtown Community Plaza, 111 E. University Ave., after the National Holiday Kick-Off Program, which begins at noon.

Rodney Long, founder and president of the King Commission, said Frances "Pat" Fitzpatrick will be recognized at the banquet as the 2012 Hall of Fame honoree and Jennifer Kizza, a senior at Eastside High School, will be recognized as the 2012 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award recipient.

Long said he is excited to have Bryant as the keynote speaker at the baquet because he is "probably one of the most sought-after speakers" in the country.

In an article written by Dave Kovaleski on From Meetings.Net, Bryant is one of the top five speakers on the "hot" list, according to a sampling of speakers from the rosters of the Washington Speakers Bureau, BrightSight Group, Speakers Platform and Speak Inc.

"I've been subscribing to his quarterly magazine for six or seven years, and I've been impressed," said Long, adding that Bryant has held conferences with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and he has been an adviser to President Barack Obama and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Bryant is on Obama's President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability and he served as vice chairman of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Council and chairman of the council Committee on the Under Served during the Bush administration.

With its headquarters in Los Angeles. the mission of Operation HOPE is to expand economic opportunity in underserved communities through economic education and empowerment.

King Hall of Fame Honoree Fitzgerald said he is honored to be accepting the award, which he says bears the name of one of the "greatest Americans to ever live."

He said he can think of others who are more deserving of the award than he is, but Long doesn't agree with him. Long said Fitzgerald was almost single-handedly responsible for city of Gainesville leaders changing an ordinance that limited to 130 the number of meals the St. Francis House could serve during a three-hour period.

"I don't deserve it, but I appreciate it, and will gladly accept the honor," Fitzpatrick said. "I am humbled, very humbled to receive an award like this."

Long said Jennifer is being recognized for her outstanding work in the classroom and the community. She was named the 2011 Alachua County Sunshine State Scholar, a designation made each year in each school district in Florida to a high school junior who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in math and science.

She also was named a semifinalist in the National Achievement Scholarship Program, which recognizes black students who score in the top 1 percent on the Preliminary SAT, which measures critical reading, math problem-solving and writing skills.

Below are other highlights of King Celebration 2012:

* Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.: "Remembering Martin" with Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr. of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, Faith Baptist Church, 2905 SE 21st Ave.

* Jan. 11, 6 p.m.: Restoration of Rights Expunging & Sealing of Records Educational Workshop, King Center, 1028 NE 14th St. For more information, call 352-273-0800.

* Jan. 12, 6 p.m.: 2012 Black History Cultural Brain Bowl and Spelling Bee, King Center. For more information, call 352-222-9425.

* Jan. 13, 7 p.m.: 3rd annual Youth Talent Extravaganza, King Center. For more information, call 352-246-8071 or 352-870-7013.

* Jan. 14, 9 a.m.-noon: Educational Summit, King Center. For more information, call 352-246-1796.

* Jan. 17, 6 p.m.: "Remembering Coretta Observance Program," Spirit of Faith Christian Center, 1414 NE 23rd Ave. For more information, call 352-284-2148.

* Jan. 18, 6 p.m.: Alachua County Women Empowerment Revival, Greater Bethel AME Church, 701 SE 43rd St. The theme is "Stretch Forth Thy Hand and Be Revived, Renewed and Restored." For more information, call 352-222-3699 or 352-665-6314.

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