FORT LAUDERDALE – Thousands of Broward County residents lined sidewalks along Sistrunk Boulevard and Northwest 27th Avenue to celebrate the King Holiday Parade and Non-Violence March on Monday. For many parade-goers, the celebration held a more historical meaning, as President Barack Obama took his second oath as president of the United States.
“I’m just honored and humbled to witness the inauguration and participate in a parade honoring a man who has left us with such a great legacy,” Marvis Ward, Martin Luther King Elementary School’s principal said. “We all need to recognize that this is all part of Dr. King’s dream coming to a reality, and that we are living it today.”
It was Dr. King’s “Dream” speech that led Tia Norfleet, NASCAR’s first black female driver, to follow her path. “(Dr. King) influenced a lot of people with powerful words, including those who paved the way for my success,” said Norfleet, who served as the parade’s grand marshal. “His (“Dream”) speech, even today, continues to empower young people.”
The hourlong parade kicked off at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School at 591 Northwest 31st Ave., traveled east on Sistrunk Boulevard to Northwest 27th Avenue, and then north to Dillard High School’s Otis Gray Football Field at 2330 Northwest 12th Ct., where the Battle of the Bands followed a non-violence rally.
The Fort Lauderdale parade has taken place for “more than 20 years,” according to Maggie Curry, one of the events original organizers. “There was nothing going on in Fort Lauderdale in reference to Dr. King,” Curry said. “He suffered so much, gave us so much … we had to do something to honor his legacy.”
Wanda Yates, who watched the parade from the corner of Sistrunk Boulevard and Northwest 27th Avenue, said that she was “happy to be alive and witness this double dose of history. The ‘Dream’ speech is 50 years old this year and our president (Obama) is in there for four more. I could not be happier.”
Yates, 62, who lives in Lauderhill, added that “Dr. King’s dreams for us as Americans have been long coming. There are still problems in this country, especially with race relations. But we cannot ignore how far we have already come.”
There are elements of “The Dream” that have been fulfilled, Martin Luther King III told a sold-out crowd at the Jan. 18 breakfast honoring his father’s legacy. “Dad wanted to eradicate poverty, racism, militarism and violence from our nation and we still have issues to address around race,” he said during the breakfast, held at the First Baptist Church, 301 E. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
But poverty, King said, “is sort of frightening where we stand. We’ve got to find a spirit that lifts people up; find a way to create jobs and opportunities so entrepreneurship can flourish.”
America is still the greatest on the planet, King said, “but we also have more debt than anyone, and we need to collectively do something about that.”
Cynthia Roby may be reached at: CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net