All about the speech
King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ takes on new meaning as young residents take part in program and march
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
Blue skies and cool weather greeted hundreds of men, women and children at the annual National Holiday Kick-off and the King Celebration Commemorative March, while Americans celebrated President Barack Obama's second-term inauguration, thus becoming only the 17th of 44 U.S. presidents to be elected to a second term.
"You are living history," said Rodney Long, founder and president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida, which sponsored the events. "We're celebrating Rev. King and the president's second inauguration celebration."
King's "I Have A Dream" speech played on speakers and set the tone for a hopeful and joyous program held at noon Monday at the Bo Diddley Downtown Plaza. Featured speakers included current and past winners of the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream scholarship and the winners of the inaugural Oratorical Contest for middle and high school students.
The speakers reflected on the theme: "I Have A Dream — The Speech: 50 Years Later."
Jenna Stafford, the keynote speaker and the recipient of the 2013 Keeper of the Dream award, called on all men and women to work together to achieve King's dream.
"Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke words of truth in a 17-minute speech that still rings true today," said Stafford, a senior at Eastside High School. "A dream to end injustice, but a dream remains a dream unless coupled with action. It's our responsibility to keep the dream alive and to fulfill America's destiny,"
Benjamin Osoba, the 2010 Keeper of Dream recipient, presided over the event. Evangelist Margaret H. Harris, a member of the King Commission Board of Directors, offered the invocation.
"As we continue to press forward, we must continue to advocate for the rights Dr. King fought so hard for," said Adria Green, the 2004 Keeper of the Dream recipient who offered the welcome.
In his greetings, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe called King and President Obama beacons of hope in difficult times. He spoke against violence and called for sensible gun regulation, including background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
"My right to own a gun does not outweigh your right to live," Lowe said.
Alaina Walton, the 2008 Keeper of the Dream recipient, recited "I Have A Dream."
Antione Turner, a sixth-grader at Caring and Sharing Learning School and the winner of the 2013 Oratorical Contest middle school division, read his essay, "What has happened to the 50-year dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
Antione said African Americans are not living the dream, and cited prisons filled with African-American males and people struggling for economic and education equality.
"We must pick up the mantle and continue to fight for justice and freedom for all of God's children," Antione said.
Lamont Wallace, a ninth-grader at Gainesville High School and the winner of the 2013 Oratorical Contest high school division, read his essay, "Where we are today."
Not having lived during the civil rights movement, Lamont said his knowledge comes from pictures and videos. Lamont said there are a few differences from then to now, but now the only signs he has to worry about are the "Women" and "Men" signs, if he wants to use a public bathroom. He said during the BCS National Championship game, black and white Alabama University and Notre Dame University football players and fans interacted.
"Whites and blacks kissed and hugged each other," Lamont said. "In 1965, would I have seen that kind of interaction? I don't think so."
"You fought for my rights and I think I am living the dream," Lamont said. "We appreciate the blood and tears. We still have a lot to do, and to move forward we must be fired up and ready to go."
The National Holiday Kick-off was followed by the King Celebration Commemorative March, which featured a sea of men, women and children marching along E. University Avenue to the King Center on Waldo Road. To facilitate the marchers, faith organizations provided shuttle service to and from downtown and the King Center.
Three generations of Joann Smith's family marched together, including her daughter, Easter Smith, and her three grandchildren, Niran Jackson, 7, Kira Jackson, 8, and George Smith, 11.
Joann Smith said she wanted her grandchildren to participate in a historic occasion and to learn that King fought for freedom for all people.
"I want them to know it (the fight for civil rights) is not just something written in a book," said Joann Smith. "It's history in America they need to know. And someday, they may become world leaders."
"It's an opportunity to come together and support our black heritage," Easter Smith said.
When the children were asked what the King holiday means to them, George said it means equal rights.
"It means freedom," Kira said,
"It means civil rights in America," Niran said.