Legacy of a dream

Commission kicks off annual King Celebration events

Jenna Stafford, a senior at Eastside High School who is in the Dual Enrollment Program at Santa Fe College, is the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award recipient. She will be recognized Jan. 13 at the 28th annual Hall of Fame Banquet. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 7:35 p.m.

Three King Celebration 2013 activities in Gainesville will feature the winners of the first-time oratorical contest who will recite the infamous "I Have A Dream" speech delivered by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago in 1963 on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Rodney Long, founder and president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc., which organizes most King Celebration activities in Gainesville and Alachua County, said the oratorical contest was added to 2013 activities because it ties into the theme of the celebration, which is "I Have a Dream – The Speech: 50 Years Later."

"The winners will recite parts of Dr. King's speech at several of our events," Long said. Those events will include the "Remembering Martin" program on Jan. 15, the 4th annual Youth Talent Extravaganza on Jan. 18 and the National Holiday Kick-Off program on Jan. 21.

Cynthia Mingo, coordinator of the oratorical contest, said 11-year-old Antione Turner, a student at Caring & Sharing Learning School, is the middle school oratorical winner. She said the high school winner will be chosen this week.

"They had to answer a question asking what has happened to the 50-year-old dream of Dr. King," said Mingo, adding that Antione included perceived voter suppression laws and educational disparities between blacks and whites in his answer.

Long said King Celebration 2013 will have something for the entire family.

"This year, we tried to do a little programming so that we could have something for everybody in the family, and if you look at our planned activities this year, we have accomplished that," Long said.

Below is a look at some of the highlights of the 2013 activities.


Long said the first big event of King Celebration 2013 will be the 28th annual Hall of Fame Banquet, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Best Western Plus Gateway Grand Hotel at 4200 NW 97th Blvd. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased by calling 352-376-2442. The deadline to buy tickets is Thursday and no tickets will be sold at the door.

The keynote speaker will be Marc H. Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, a nonpartisan civil rights organization based in New York City that serves blacks and fight against racial discrimination in the U.S. Morial has been the CEO of the National Urban League since 2003 and has served as a Louisiana state senator, law professor at Xavier University in New Orleans and as mayor of New Orleans.

Long also said Louis Kalivoda, a former member of the King Commission, is the Hall of Fame recipient and Jenna Stafford, a senior at Eastside High School who is in the Dual Enrollment Program at Santa Fe College, is the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award recipient. Both will be recognized at the banquet.

The scholarship is named in honor of the late Hart, a longtime educator in east Gainesville who believed all students could attain academic success.

Long said Kalivoda, program director for criminal justice, emergency medical services, fire science and aviation at the Institute of Public Safety at Santa Fe College, is being recognized for his more than 30 years of dedicated service to make the Gainesville community better for all residents.

"We are also recognizing him for his commitment and dedication as a founding member of the Martin Luther King Commission Jr. of Florida in 1985," said Long, adding that Kalivoda retired from the commission 2 years ago.

Long said Kalivoda served as the chief fundraiser of the King Memorial Garden in downtown Gainesville and, in the past, served as the commission's banquet and education committee chairman.

Long said Stafford was chosen as the Keeper of the Dream Award recipient for her academic excellence, civic involvement and for writing an awesome essay about keeping King's dream alive.

Stafford, who has a 3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale, was named the Santa Fe College Woman of Promise in March 2012 and Youth Volunteer of the Year at Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy during the 2011-2012 school year.

Stafford, who was one of 10 students to apply for the Keeper of the Dream award, will receive a not yet determined monetary scholarship from the commission. Long said the scholarship has averaged $7,500 during the past five years.

‘Remembering Martin'

The "Remembering Martin" program will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at Ignite Life Center at 404 NW 14th Ave.

The free event will feature the winners of the "I Have a Dream Oratorical Contest" and a gospel concert featuring national gospel recording artists Apostle JL Cash & PRAISE of St. Petersburg and Beverly Crawford of Gainesville.

Rights workshop

The Restoration of Rights Expunging and Sealing of Records Educational Workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Jan 16 at the King Center at 1028 NE 14th St.

Long said the workshop will feature a panel of experts from around the state who will "begin the dialogue about a state constitutional amendment to change the constitution to automatically restore people's rights once they have done their time and paid their fines."

Long said Florida is one of only a handful of states that still make people go through "an onerous process" to get their rights restored.

Youth extravaganza

The 4th annual Youth Talent Extravaganza will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at the King Center.

Diyonne McGraw, vice president of the King Commission, said the event is open to elementary through high school-age children, and those interested in competing in the event should contact her by Jan. 9 by calling 352-246-8071.

Contestants will be asked to perform dramatic presentations, dances, raps, songs and recite poetry. Cash prizes will be awarded.

Holiday events

King Celebration Holiday activities will begin with the annual Hall of Fame Award Enshrinement Program at 11 a.m. Jan. 21 at the King Memorial Garden.

That will be followed by the National Holiday Kick-Off Program at noon at the Bo Diddley Downtown Community Plaza at 111 E. University Ave.

The kick-off program will feature Stafford reading her essay and the winners of the oratorical contest reciting parts of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

The program will conclude with the annual Commemorative March at 1 p.m. from the plaza to the King Center.

Gospel program

The annual National Holiday Gospel Program will be held at 2 p.m. at the King Center.

The free event will feature Lawrence Flowers & Intercession, a group of former Florida State University and Florida A&M University students, formed more than 10 years ago in Tallahassee.

The group has released two albums, "Major in Ministry: Minor in Music, The Experience Live" and "Major in Ministry: Minor in Music, Volume 2: More."

They also have won numerous awards, including the 2009 and 2010 Multi-Rhythm of Gospel Indie Awards, 2010 Gospel Heritage Praise & Worship Showcase Winners, 2010 Artist of the Year, Tribe of Judah Award, 2011 Black Expo Gospel Best Winner with David & Tamela Mann and the 2012 Merge Summit Atlanta Showcase in association with Broadcast Music Inc. and Black Entertainment Television Music Matters.

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