Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will be the guest speaker at a Miami church’s annual service commemorating the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr.
The service will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, the King National Holiday, at the Church of the Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St. in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.
Carroll, who won election to the number two spot as Rick Scott’s running mate in November, has ties to the area. Her husband, Nolan Carroll Sr., is from Miami and Nolan Jr., one of their three sons, is a player for the Miami Dolphins.
The church began holding the service in 1984, a year after then President Ronald Reagan signed legislation making the anniversary of King’s birth a national holiday celebrated the third Monday of January.
It is now a community event for the church and is co-sponsored by the Greater Miami Chapter of the Links and the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity of which King was a member.
Carroll, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, retired from service in the U.S. Navy, lived in Merritt Island. She was a businesswoman and state lawmaker when Republican Scott tapped her in his bid to become governor.
Carroll, now the first black lieutenant governor in Florida, has been well received in many parts of the African-American community, which is overwhelmingly Democratic. Perhaps the most significant post-election approval of her election victory came from the state’s most important historically black university.
Tallahassee-based Florida A&M University, along with Lawson & Associates, hosted a black-tie reception on Jan. 2 for Carroll and two days later she and Scott were guests at FAMU’s annual prayer breakfast which coincided with inauguration day.
“We at Florida A&M University look forward to establishing a genuine friendship and partnership with you and Gov. Scott to create the kinds of new jobs that Florida needs in this new decade,” FAMU President James Ammons told Carroll at the reception.
Carroll received special presentations from the Black Caucus of the Florida Legislature, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, the Delta Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and FAMU.
Alfred Lawson Jr., a former Democratic sate senator representing Tallahassee, introduced Carroll at the reception as “one of my dearest friends who I’ve always considered like my little sister.”
“She is someone you can count on,” a statement from FAMU quoted him as saying. “She is one who was always willing to stay into the wee hours of the night to make sure her constituents were well taken care of. I can guarantee that she has already hit the ground running.”
Carroll said she received a phone call on election day, Nov. 2, from Lawson expressing support for her candidacy.
“I could feel the excitement in him that he felt what I felt and that this was going to be a reality,” Carroll said. “He told me, ‘We have to do something. This is historic. We have to throw you a party.’
“I want to thank Rick Scott for saying, ‘This is the person I want by my side to help lead Florida out of this economic condition that it is in,’” Carroll said. “You are about to see great things.”
FAMU’s Director for Governmental Relations Tola Thompson said the university felt honored opening its doors to the community for “these memorable events.”
“It was a historic moment in our state and, as the state’s largest historically black university, we would be remise if we did not recognize this historic opportunity and commemorate it,” Thompson said.
Miamians heard from Carroll when she appeared at a candidates forum during the campaign season.
Her appearance at the Church of the Incarnation will provide an opportunity to hear from her after she took the oath of office.
Fr. J. Kenneth Major, retired rector of the church, said Carroll was selected to speak at the King observance because “she epitomizes all that Martin Luther King Jr. stood for in terms of black freedom and black justice.”
“We think she can talk to us in terms of what Martin Luther King stood for, being one of the recipients of what he stood for and died for,” Major said.
Also, Major noted, Carroll has made history with her election and her husband, Nolan Sr., grew up in Miami and was a member of Incarnation. The couple worship at the church whenever they are back in town, Major said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. service
WHEN: 9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 17
WHERE: Church of the Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St., Miami