MIAMI – The 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday was marked by innumerable annual activities in Miami-Dade County inspired by King’s life and work. Among them, Mary Frances Berry, former chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was the keynote speaker for the annual MLK Commemorative Breakfast, part of the Florida International University’s Office of Multicultural Programs and Services’ monthlong celebration honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in which more than 2,500 people were expected to participate.
“The Time is Always Right” was this year’s theme for the breakfast on Friday, Jan. 18 at the FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus’ Graham Center Ballrooms, at 11200 S.W. Eighth St. in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Berry was one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement, which initiated protests at the South African Embassy in the successful struggle for democracy in South Africa, and was arrested and jailed several times.
On Friday, Jan. 18, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project Foundation and its founder, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, commemorated King’s life and legacy by honoring more than 100 high school seniors as scholarship recipients.
The students were recognized during the Role Models’ 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast held at Jungle Island, where award-winning actor Malik Yoba delivered an inspiring keynote address.
Yoba is portraying King in the Lifetime television movie Betty and Coretta, scheduled for release in February.
An early morning drizzle on Saturday, Jan. 19 did not dampen the determination of marchers during the 30th Annual City of Opa-locka MLK Walk, hosted by Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, and sponsored by Mayor Myra Taylor, the City Commission and the Parks & Recreation Department in partnership with the Community Relations Recreation Activities Advisory Board (CRRAAB), to honor the slain civil rights leader.
Officials said the Opa-locka MLK WALK and celebration was initially organized in 1983 by former commissioner and mother of the vice mayor, Ollie B. Kelley, after a resolution was passed by the commission, making Opa-locka the first city in the State of Florida to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a legal holiday.
Reminiscent of the 1960s when civil right leaders would gather early in the morning before marching peacefully through cities in protest of injustice and in support of citizen rights, participants sang spirituals as they approached the pivotal point of the walk at the 27th Avenue and Sharazad “prayer stop,” significant of a time when blacks, unless working, were banned from the Westside of 27thAvenue.
On this corner, a prayer led by Kelley, ignited the steps for the rest of the journey as marchers, now past the commercial district, continued through the residential area and on to the new Sherbondy Village, 215 Perviz Ave., where Taylor, Commissioners Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson and Timothy Holmes offered “Words to Dream By,” followed by reflections of hope from walk founder and former Commissioner Kelley and state Rep. Cynthia A. Stafford.
ON TO LIBERTY CITY
Opa-locka’s MLK Walk and celebration culminated with the sun overpowering the rain, and city employees outscoring community teams 55-48 and 24-19, respectively, in two friendly games of basketball.
The commemoration continued through Monday, Jan. 21, when city officials and residents participated, along with thousands of other spectators, in a double celebration during the annual Liberty City MLK Parade and the inauguration of President Barack Obama, which shared the same day, honoring the two great Americans for their vision and service.