The mention of his name conjures images of Liberty City’s Martin Luther King Jr. parade as it rolls down 54th street and culminates in festivities at the park named after King. It should because Preston W. Marshall Jr. was instrumental in the establishment of and the ongoing support of the annual celebration in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
Marshall died on Nov. 15
The MLK parade is one of Liberty City’s most endearing events, with roughly 150 groups, including marching bands, dance and drill teams, elected officials, professional floats, equestrian units, classic cars, motorcycle units, faith-based, community and political leaders, civic and community organizations, labor unions, police and fire units, military and veteran groups participating in the parade. Marshall once estimated that previous parades were attended by between 300,000 and 500,000 people.
Community leaders are weighing in on what Marshall meant to the community.
“With a heavy heart I join the residents of my district and the county on the loss of a friend and community leader Rev. Dr. Preston W. Marshall Jr.,” said Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime. “Dr. Marshall leaves an amazing legacy as he dedicated his entire life to the fight for equality and fairness for all, and the education of our youth and adults.”
Monestime added, “Dr. Preston W. Marshall Jr., who lived in District 2, was a native of Miami of Bahamian decent and one of the South’s few remaining historic civil rights activist who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and experienced the hardships of “The Movement” in Tallahassee, FL.”
Marshall’s efforts regarding honoring King extended far beyond Liberty City.
“President Ronald Reagan appointed Dr. Marshall to serve as a member of the Founding Committee to establish Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday. Monestime shared.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said, “I join the residents of Miami-Dade County who are mourning the passing of Rev. Dr. Preston W. Marshall Jr. Rev. Marshall was one of our community’s greatest civil rights activists, and one of the few remaining who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the historic march on Washington, D.C.
Marshall was a Mott Fellow for Community Education with a Doctorate in Education from Arizona State University. During his 40 year tenure in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, he was selected as one of the first principals for the school systems Community Education Vocational Education Program for high school drop outs and adults in the Miami’s Inner City and Hialeah.
He also established the first GED and vocational curriculum for Hispanic and Caribbean immigrants; and was the lead administrator for cities and schools, placing many certified tradesman in jobs. He co-launched many labor union initiatives for equality and issues relating to employment in government, education and transportation.
Marshall was also a professor of Social Science and Black History for Miami Dade College and a founding Professor of Afrocentric Music Education at Florida Memorial University, where he also served as the Upward Bound and Special Services Director. Additionally, he was the Director of Teacher Corps of Florida International University, and Dean of Fort Lauderdale College.
As a non-violence coordinator, Marshall was an International Police Chaplin, ordained Clergy of Gospel Ministries and Church International, Chaplain for Miami-Dade County Democratic Party, Chaplin for the Opa-Locka Police Department and also served as a Chaplain for various prisons and hospitals.