West Palm Beach, Fla. – It’s been 58 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Fifty-eight years later to the day, last Saturday, Aug. 28, the City of West Palm Beach unveiled renovations to the largest MLK landmark memorial in Florida
The ribbon cutting for the landmark, in Currie Park along the Flagler Drive waterfront, was greeted by onlookers from far and near as they basked in the glow of the refurbished King quotations, flags, lighting and waterfall cascade in the background of the universally recognized bust of MLK.
Edith Bush, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee of West Palm Beach, said she was ecstatic and proud of the work her committee did on the landmark.
“Now we can proudly have events here on this site, which is the most outstanding landmark in the world,” Bush said. “We also have to think of its signiﬁcance in terms of what’s happening in the world right now. (It’s) a disgrace what’s happening with our voting rights.
“I’m a great proponent of teaching our children our history and I’m a ﬁrm believer in the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said as she worked her way through the crowd of a couple hundred. Some were seated under a canopy while others sat in stadium chairs around the park.
Bush also expressed disdain that another civil rights event was being held a mere 10-minute drive away at nearby Gaines Park in the heart of West Palm Beach’s Black community.
“They should’ve had their event over here with us!” she repeated throughout the course of the morning.
The other event was a national initiative held in various parts of the country addressing the attack on voting rights. Political candidates scrambled to be present at both events.
The Rev. Benjamin Carroll, senior pastor of Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, offered the prayer at the landmark. He referenced the homeless who frequent the park surrounding the area and how they coincide with King’s heart for the downtrodden.
“This area has been a bastion for the homeless,” Carroll said. “And Dr. King died (in the midst) of his Poor People’s Campaign. That is what this monument represents. We still have work to do.”
DREAM IS US
Radio personality and community activist Reggie Dee of X102.3FM, who began his famed Walk for Unity (across America) at the memorial several years ago before it closed for renovations, said it was imperative that he be there for the reopening.
“Dr. King spoke the words ‘I Have a Dream.’ We are that dream,” Dee said. “When I took my walk across America for Unity, I wanted to lead by example. I want to emphasize what my walk signiﬁed: We cannot walk alone!” Kelly Shoaf, the city commissioner whose District 1 houses the monument, reiterated the same. “Dr. King taught us to ‘see’ clearly. We don’t travel this life alone. Never be afraid to get in good trouble – necessary trouble,” she said, quoting the revered late Congressman John Lewis.
“This is the largest monument dedicated to MLK in the state of Florida,” said Armando Fana, assistant city administrator for West Palm Beach. “We should be very proud of the work put into it.”