OPA-LOCKA – The city continued its tradition for the 31st time with a morning walk to honor slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. On Saturday, Jan. 18, at 9 a.m., community members and youth organizations joined host and Vice Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, Mayor Myra L. Taylor, the walk’s founder and former Commissioner Ollie B. Kelley, State Rep. Cynthia A. Stafford, other dignitaries and the Miami Heat Dancers on the corner of 151st Street and 27th Avenue.
From there they walked – singing spirituals – to Sherbondy Village, 215 President Barack Obama (Perviz) Ave., for a day’s celebration of the life and works of King.
Ollie B. Kelley, who founded the Opa-locka MLK Walk said she would continue the WALK as long as she is able. “I will always do my best, in whatever I do,” she said.
Vice Mayor Kelley said the 27th Avenue starting point of the MLK Walk is significant because it was where blacks could only cross to the west side of that street if they were employed in that area of the city.
Stafford focused on the impact of the annual march, as she recalled the time her mother, “a domestic, who was required to carry a photo ID card to work on Miami Beach,” had to be off the beach before sundown, due to the laws of that city during that time. Surveying the crowd, Stafford praised the youth and the elderly, particularly the founder, “Mother Kelley” for “still walking.” Stafford added, “The problems in our community start with us and we are the solution to those problems.”
As the walk advanced from 27th Avenue down 151st Street, there was a brief “prayer stop” on President Barack Obama (Perviz) Avenue, led by the vice mayor, before proceeding to Sherbondy Village for a short the program, followed by the MLK Basketball Tournament between the City’s youth, ages 14 and under.
Mayor Taylor acknowledged the many gains over the years, but also recognized the challenges ahead. “We have not made it yet, we are still overcoming,” Taylor said. Commissioner Timothy Holmes reflected on marches in Alabama and Chicago, and recalled the black church burnings in his hometown of South Carolina.
Larry Gardner, representing Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan’s office, has participated in the WALK for six years and declared this year’s as bigger and better. Former State Rep. James Bush revealed that at age 13 he attended Dr. King’s funeral and concluded his message with a quote by King:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
Vice Mayor Kelley said he was pleased with the outcome and enthusiasm of the participants. “It is commitment such as this that will keep the ‘dream alive,’ the vision in focus and the City of Opa-locka Annual MLK Walk moving forward,” he said.
CITY LEADERSHIP: Commissioners Luis B. Santiago and Dorothy “Lady Justice” Johnson walk with community participants and leaders during Opa-locka’s 31st Annual MLK Walk on Saturday, Jan. 18.