MIAMI — On April 4th 1968, civil rights leader and activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.
He was only 39 years old.
From that day forth, people across America promised to never forget his legacy.
Forty-one years later, on Saturday April 4th, 2009, the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation (MLKEDC), residents of Liberty City and community leaders gathered on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and NW 7th Avenue for the 8th Annual “MLK Reclaim the Dream” Candlelight Memorial Service.
The service commemorated the 41st Anniversary of King’s assassination.
This years “Reclaim the Dream,” which kicked off with a symbolic Unity March led by clergy members, the mayor, city and county officials and community leaders, promised to be encouraging and motivating.
Not only did this event commemorate King, it also celebrated what many believe is the prophecy of King’s dream: the historic election of President Barack Obama.
David Chiverton, chairman of the MLKEDC, said, “This year’s event meets us with great pride and authentic feelings of hope.”
During an interview with the South Florida Times, Chiverton said, “Our message tonight is asking the people to get involved to make a change. We at the MLKEDC want to bring our community together for the betterment of us all.”
For the past eight years, this annual event has attracted thousands of community members, residents, national entertainers and more. Previous national speakers included the Rev. Dr. Bernice King and Yolanda King, both daughters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
This year’s featured keynote speaker was Martin L. King, chairman of Rainbow Push Coalition, who is not related to the slain civil rights leader. He encouraged the crowd of more than 2,000 to take a stand within their community. The people were left with a sense of hope and enthusiasm by the applause and sporadic” Amen” emitted from the crowd.
The national music entertainers brought inspiration, passion and excitement to the event this year.
Recent Christian music Hall of Fame inductee, John P Kee & the New Life Community Choir had the people on their feet in praise with his new hit “Right Now Praise.”
Other performances included Mark Cooper & Voices of the Upper Room and David Chance; formerly of the R&B group Ruff Endz.
The highlight of the evening was the lighting of the candles that illuminated the streets.
Just for a moment, the community of Liberty City lit up with elation in commemoration and celebration.
Yet Miami District 5 City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones said a lot more needs to be done for the community.
“It’s OK to come here and celebrate, but we need to take responsibility as individuals for our children and our families,’’ Spence-Jones said. “We can’t push responsibility on someone else. We have to do it!”
Photo: David Chiverton